Hundreds of Harmful Chemicals Are Likely in Your Tap Water
EWG analyzed data from U.S. agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015. The tests came from nearly 50,000 water utilities in 50 states and tested for 500 different contaminants. In all, 267 were detected, including:
- 93 linked to an increased risk of cancer
- 78 associated with brain and nervous system damage
- 63 connected to developmental harm to children or fetuses
- 38 that may cause fertility problems
- 45 linked to hormonal disruption
EWG’s analysis revealed many alarming trends, like the fact that nearly 19,000 public water systems detected lead at levels above 3.8 parts per billion, which would put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Other chemicals of concern include chromium-6, an industrial chemical that’s not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act but is found in drinking water supplies in all 50 states at levels above those that may pose a cancer risk.
The industrial solvent 1,4-dioxane was also widely detected at levels above what the EPA says could pose a cancer risk, as were nitrates, stemming from industrial agriculture, also at levels above that which might pose a cancer risk. According to EWG:
“The vast majority of the nation’s drinking water supplies get a passing grade from federal and state regulatory agencies. However, many of the 250-plus contaminants detected through water sampling and testing are at levels that are perfectly legal under the Safe Drinking Water Act or state regulations, but well above levels authoritative scientific studies have found to pose health risks.
What’s more, the Environmental Protection Agency has not added a new contaminant to the list of regulated drinking water pollutants in more than 20 years. This inexcusable failure of the federal government’s responsibility to protect public health means there are no legal limits for the more than 160 unregulated contaminants the tests detected in the nation’s tap water.”