Much of US Drinking Water Is of Questionable Quality
It’s difficult to get a complete overview of the severity of water pollution.
For example, in the US, the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates just 91 contaminants. Meanwhile, more than 80,000 chemicals are used in the US. How many of these chemicals, and at what levels, end up in the water supply is anyone’s guess, no one is testing and measuring these unregulated chemicals in our drinking water.
What little we do know suggests the situation is dire.
Tests show drinking water in the US contains potentially unsafe levels of many different contaminants. Some of the contaminants that have started gaining more widespread attention include but are not limited to:
• Polyfluoroalkyl or perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs). According to a recent Harvard study, 16.5-M Americans have detectable levels of at least 1 kind of PFAS in their drinking water, and 75% of the samples with elevated PFAS came from 13 states: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.
• Lead. More than 18-M Americans receive drinking water from water treatment facilities that have violated federal drinking water rules for lead. And, in 9 out of 10 cases, the EPA has taken no enforcement action against the violators. Many water treatment facilities have also been caught using incorrect testing methods to avoid detecting high levels of lead.
This means the number of Americans drinking lead-contaminated water may be higher than suspected.
For example, a recent review of the testing done in 1,500 New York City school buildings revealed strategies were employed to artificially lower the lead levels in the water for the tests. So, while officials told parents the water is safe to drink, the reality may be that students are ingesting unsafe levels of lead.
• Perchlorate. An estimated 16-M Americans also have perchlorate, a chemical used in explosives and rocket fuel in their drinking water.
• Pharmaceutical drugs. There is no drinking water standard for drugs in the US, and typical water treatment methods are not designed to filter them out. Depending on the method used, anywhere from 10 to more than 80 of the drugs in the water fail to be removed during treatment.
In 1 Y 2015 investigation (see video below) concluded at least 41% Americans in 24 major cities are drinking water contaminated with a wide range of drugs, including painkillers, hormones, antidepressants, antibiotics, cholesterol drugs and several dozens more.
• Atrazine. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75% of the US population has detectable levels of pesticides in their urine, and unless you are a farmer, your diet and drinking water are 2 of the most likely routes of exposure.
The EPA’s risk assessment for atrazine found the chemical can cause reproductive harm to mammals, fish and birds, with the level of concern already surpassed by nearly 200X using real-world scenarios for mammals.
Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in US waters, so be sure to always filter your tap water both for drinking and bathing, with a filter certified to remove it.
According to a Frontline report, killer whales are dying at an alarming rate, and tests have reveled high levels of PCBs in the deceased animals.
PCBs have also been linked to fertility, reproductive and endocrine damage along with neurological effects, including damage to learning and memory.
Even though PCBs have been banned in the US for decades, these chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment.
Frontline discusses Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) involvement in the PCB pollution problem, and how Boeing has been playing the blame game of who’s responsible for cleaning up the contamination.
Today, the focus is primarily on Monsanto (NYSE:MON).
Various lawsuits by individuals and municipalities are now trying to hold Monsanto accountable for PCBs’ widespread pollution.
For example, Seattle filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB pollution. They want Monsanto to pay to help to clean up pollution it caused in the Duwamish River and also wants to hold Monsanto responsible for making the river’s fish too contaminated to eat. The city alleges that Monsanto knew all along that PCBs were toxic but continued to market them anyway.
In an obvious effort to aid Monsanto, the US House of Representatives slipped a clause into the proposed update to the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Once reformed, “The Act” will determine how the chemical industry is regulated, including which chemicals are allowed and who can sue over any related problems. But, the inserted clause actually shields the company from legal liability related to PCBs.
Sadly, our choices are limited when it comes to avoiding certain water contaminants, especially if they’re unregulated, such as pharmaceuticals.
Others, such as microbeads, are simply difficult to filter out. To be certain you are getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use.
The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommends using granulated activated carbon “or an equally efficient technology.”
Filtering your water is your best immediate option.
Ultimately, we really must address the issue of pollution on a much larger scale. We need much stronger regulations, but it seems that in order to get that, we must 1st break the industrial stronghold on politics.
The agricultural and meat lobbies in the US are just as efficient and powerful as the chemical lobby when it comes to their political and regulatory influence, and they are opposing efforts that would make them accountable for the toxic waste and pollution they create during the course of their business. There are no simple answers to these problem, but it is certainly an issue that must be faced and addressed.
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