Lead isn’t the only thing in our tap water we need to worry about.
There are dozens of harmful contaminants in our tap water and a new website from the Environmental Working Group will let you see exactly which ones you’re guzzling down with your 8 glasses a day.
Besides the oft-discussed lead, dangerous levels of arsenic, chromium-6 (the chemical Julia Roberts went to court over in “Erin Brockovich”), nitrate and even chloroform can be found in tap water in varying amounts in cities and towns nationwide. And there are dozens more unspellable, unpronounceable contaminants that can lead to cancer, brain and nervous system damage, plus fertility and hormonal disruption.
The new database, compiled by the Environmental Working Group, allows citizens to enter their zip codes to find out exactly which contaminants are in their local water supply, where they likely come from, and what you can do to limit your exposure.
The results are compiled from 28 million water records provided by local and federal health and environmental agencies from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. While the group determines that a “vast majority” of drinking water passes state and federal regulations, many of the contaminants found are far above current scientific recommendations.
The group also says there are contaminants in our water that the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t even regulated yet, meaning no legal limits for more than 160 contaminants.
Of course, Flint, Mich., is high on the EWG’s radar — the city’s highly contaminated water crisis has constantly been making national headlines since 2014. Federal lead limits are 15 parts per billion because it is nearly impossible to remove all lead, but no level of lead is considered safe. According to the database, Flint, Mich.,has levels exceeding 707 parts per billion. In comparison, New York City lead levels are below 12 parts per billion.
The EWG recommends using filters, which will get out most of the contaminants, but acknowledge that the problem should be taken care of at the root.