The Big Question
Do you know what’s in your water?
It seems like a simple question, but it brings up a variety of new questions.
Do you know what’s in the miles of pipeline that lead to your community? Do you know how old that water infrastructure is?
Do you know what your county treats water with? Do you know if they use chlorine, fluoride, chloramine, or something else?
Do you know what kind of water runoff comes from the farms and industry in your area?
Few people can answer even one of these questions.
Maura Allaire, a water economist at the University of California, Irvine says that while America’s water is safe (compared to the rest of the world) year after year problems crop up in specific areas. The contaminant problems can cause stomach flu, or chronic conditions including a variety of cancers and neurological disorders.
When the lead crisis over the water in Flint, Michigan came to the attention of the media almost 21 million Americans in total were getting water from sources that violated government health and safety standards.
While more isolated and rural communities statistically have the highest risk of having “unsafe” levels of contaminants, even large city water sources like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles have legally acceptable level of chemicals like Chloroform, Chromium, Nitrates, Hormones, and Arsenic.
If you’re interested in finding out what’s in your water there are a few things you can do.
For a general look we recommend looking up your area here at the Environmental Working Group’s database.
For a more in depth look at the water specifically from your supplier you can review the Consumer Confidence Report they release every year. It will specify which chemicals are added to your water for disinfection as well as information on the regulated contaminants found in your water supply.
The EPA requires these water supply reports to be updated every year by July 1st. You can check to see if you area’s report is available in the EPA’s online database here.
It’s important to note that this report, however, only details regulated contaminants. There are over 200 known unregulated contaminants including Butanol, certain insecticides, herbicides, and industrial solvents, as well as Cyanotoxins, Urethane, and others.
The broadest spectrum and most in-depth information you can get about your water of course comes from actual laboratory testing. We suggest using an accredited independent laboratory. We suggest using a local laboratory, Ward Labs, or another testing lab. Make sure to avoid “testing services” from companies that also sell water filtration equipment.
If you’re looking for a cheaper solution or you’re worried about a specific contaminant in your home’s water you can order a home water testing kit. These will check for one specific contaminant or a small range of contaminants.
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