We take it for granted. We turn on the kitchen or bathroom faucets in our homes and offices with every expectation that the water we receive is uncontaminated and not dangerous to our health.
Unfortunately, pure water has become extinct. In this day and age, we cannot assume that water is pollutant-free—regardless of the source. Just because it comes out of our kitchen faucet, its purity is not guaranteed. Newspapers and television newscasts report almost daily how water pollution is increasing from the sewage and industrial waste being dumped directly into our drinking water sources.
There are always new and emerging contaminants making their way into the water supply. Illegal discharge of these pollutants has been going on for decades, entering our groundwater sources and increasing the level of contamination. Now these contaminants are reemerging in our drinking water.
Another serious problem is a rotting and decaying water infrastructure in the delivery system—the pipes themselves. There are constant breaks that make the system susceptible to bacteria.
When Government Standards Fall ShortIn one of the latest debacles brought to light—water contamination issues at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base in South Carolina—is fraught with lawsuits. Contaminants in two on-base water wells that were shut down in 1985 were found to have had Trichloroethylene, Perchloroethylene, Benzene, Vinyl Chloride, and other dangerous compounds that left many veterans and family members suffering from renal toxicity, infertility, and a wide variety of cancers including bladder, breast, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
What happens when government standards are not strict enough? Do the current regulations cover the many new chemicals and contaminants added to our environment each year? Is our water really safe? The answers will alarm you.
What Toxins Are in Our Water?According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) drinking water in communities all across the country contains an array of contaminants—including radioactive elements, arsenic, disinfection byproducts, and chromium-6, the chemical that Erin Brockovich famously brought to the public’s attention.
It is no secret that the EPA drinking water standards are not adequate in protecting our health. The low bar of the EPA drinking water standards is not free from health risks, and the cumulative exposure to contaminants only serves to escalate the problem.
For example, chlorine, a commonly used disinfectant, may prevent water-borne microbial diseases, but the byproducts that are formed when chlorine reacts with dead plant materials and sediments in the water, are often highly toxic.
While they were figuring out that the cumulative effect of toxins was more dangerous than just one contaminant, 3.1 million Californians were getting their tap water from 495 systems. It was estimated that 4,860 would develop cancer from drinking their tap water. It was also found that nearly two-thirds of public water systems contained a minimum of two cancer-causing contaminants.
How Can You Know If Your Water Is Safe?The EWG admits that “legal doesn’t always mean safe” and confesses that the most egregious risks of water safety are found in small to midsize communities. Why? These are the places that cannot always afford the costly treatment infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water.
But that alone does not tell the entire story. The age of your home, the type of water pipes you have (are they copper? lead? PVC?) impacts the quality of water that comes out of your tap. And just because you have a countertop or refrigerator filter for your drinking water, it does not mean that you are not breathing in or absorbing toxins when you shower or bathe.
Regardless of where you live, the “toxic soup” of chemicals in our water supply is a known health risk. As consumers, we must be aware so that we may take corrective measures in our homes to protect ourselves, our families, and clean our water using adequate filtration equipment.
Clean, pure water is the essence of life and the birthright of all of us. There is no better gift we can give our family than to provide uncontaminated, clean, safe water every time we turn on the tap.