Chlorine-resistant bacteria can be in your water, even after treatment by your water treatment plant.
- EPA: Arsenic in Drinking Water
Discusses how arsenic enters water, the maximum contaminant level set by the EPA, and the effects that arsenic has on the body.
- EPA: Just The Facts For Consumers: Arsenic in Your Drinking Water (Download PDF)
Provides general questions and answers about arsenic in water, how the EPA regulates arsenic, and whether or not you should have your well water tested for arsenic.
- CDC: Toxic Substances Portal – Arsenic
Arsenic in water is most common in the north-central and western region of the US, and private wells in these areas should regularly be tested for the presence of arsenic. This document from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry further explains how arsenic can enter the body, the effects it has on children, and how to reduce exposure to arsenic.
- Arsenic in water near coal-fired U.S. plants: monitor
19 new sites across the US have been identified where coal-ash waste has been leaching arsenic into water at a rate of up to 10 times the maximum contaminant level. In one town near a coal-ash dumpsite, 44 of 244 residents have died in the last 5 years, and many more have cancer.
Bacteria and Pathogens
- Risk of Waterborne Illness Via Drinking Water in the United States
There are an estimated 19.5 million waterborne illnesses per year in the U.S.
- New study finds that even the cleanest wastewater contributes to more ‘super bacteria’
A study conducted in Duluth, MN demonstrates how antibiotic-resistant bacteria can originate in the human body, pass on to the wastewater treatment plant and end up in large quantities in otherwise clean surface waters. Often, this water is then treated for delivery to your faucet. While city water treatment plants do use chemical disinfectants to discourage bacterial contamination, many pathogens are resistant to chemicals.
Chlorine and Chloramines
- Water Analysis: Emerging Contaminants and Current Issues (Download PDF)
Chlorine in treated water will react with organic matter to form dangerous disinfection byproducts, also known as DBPs. DPBs such as chloroform can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin while showering, then enter the bloodstream. DBPs have been linked to liver and kidney malfunctions, pregnancy complications, birth defects and cancer.
- Environmental Working Group: Chromium-6 Is Widespread in US Tap Water
In one study, the Environmental Working Group detected hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, in tap water from 31 out of 35 cities across the U.S. While “public health goals” have been set for chromium 6 in water, the EPA has yet to establish legal limits or require cities to test for chromium 6 in water.
DBPs and THMs
- CDC: Disinfection By-Products and the Safe Water System (Download PDF)
There can be more than 600 disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in chlorinated tap water. In countries like the U.S., where showering and bathing in hot chlorinated water is an everyday occurrence, inhalation and absorption of this water accounts for more absorption of DBPs than drinking the water. For this reason, a high priority should be placed on removing chlorine and its byproducts from bathing water, and not just drinking water.
- Assessing Exposure to Disinfection By-products in Women of Reproductive Age Living in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Cobb County, Georgia: Descriptive Results and Method (Download PDF)
Levels and types of trihalomethanes (THMs) in tapwater specifically correlate to THM levels and types in the blood of pregnant women immediately after showering. THMs in tap water have been linked to birth defects and miscarriage.
Endocrine Disruptors / Hormone Mimickers
- US Department of Human and Health Services: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Drinking Water: Risks to Human Health and the Environment
Endocrine disruptors can be either naturally occurring or man-made, and can end up in our water supply by flushing prescription medications, or by passing through the bodies of those taking them. In addition, topical creams such as sunscreens can contain endocrine disruptors and will wash off directly into surface waters. Because endocrine signals govern most organs in the human body, the effects of even minute amounts of endocrine disruptors in water can be far-reaching.
- It’s Time to Learn From Frogs
For several years now, it’s been known that endocrine disruptors in bodies of water can cause sex changes in frogs, fish and alligators. Now scientists are starting to notice increasing evidence that endocrine disruptors in water can cause changes in humans as well, especially during the fetal development of baby boys.
- Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement
The endocrine society urges awareness of the effects that endocrine disruptors can have on human health, including reproductive and thyroid issues, obesity, and cancer. Additional resources are given for further research.
- EPA: Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP)
The EPA is not currently regulating endocrine disruptors in water. However, they do recognize the importance of regulation and are working on a two-tiered screening approach.
- ‘Second Thoughts about Fluoride,’ Reports Scientific American
Fluoride is deliberately added to 2/3 of public water supplies in the U.S., even though there is no universally accepted recommended daily intake level. Fluoride has been linked to changes in the thyroid, dental fluorosis (spotting on teeth), and weakening of the bones.
- The Journal of the American Dental Association: Associations Between Fluorosis of Permanent Incisors and Fluoride Intake From Infant Formula, Other Dietary Sources and Dentifrice During Early Childhood
This study followed infants that were fed formula and other beverages made with fluoridated water. At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that the risk of dental fluorosis (spotting on teeth) is much greater when infants are given beverages mixed with fluoridated water.
- International Association for Dental Research: Fluoride and its effect on human intelligence. A systematic review. (Download PDF)
This abstract details the results of 20 independent studies that followed populations to determine if there was a link between fluoride exposure and a change in IQ. Of the 20 studies, 18 found that increased levels of fluoride exposure led to lower IQ levels.
- EPA: Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water
Exposure to lead can result in physical and mental delays in children, and adults who drink water that’s been contaminated with lead can suffer from high blood pressure and kidney problems. Lead is most commonly found in water due to brass plumbing fixtures, or the solder used in the plumbing of homes that were built prior to 1986.
- EPA: Actions You Can Take To Reduce Lead In Drinking Water
Installing the RevitaLife Drinking Water System will significantly reduce lead in your drinking water. For the water in the rest of your home, the EPA offers further recommendations.
MTBE / Petroleum Products
- USGS Survey: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation’s Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply Wells (Download PDF)
MTBE, a petroleum product, was only used for a relatively short period of time, but it still ranked as the third-most detected VOC in this USGS study of private wells.
- Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Nitrates in Drinking Water (Download PDF)
Nitrates and nitrites are naturally present in water in very small amounts, but dangerous levels can enter our water supply due to agricultural runoff, waste from animal feedlots, home landscape fertilizer application and more. Pregnant women, adults with reduced stomach acidity, and infants should not drink water with high levels of nitrate, as it can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and cause ‘blue baby’ syndrome, headache, dizziness, weakness and difficulty breathing.
- CDC: Nitrate and Drinking Water from Private Wells
Nitrates can directly enter private wells, especially after periods of flooding that submerge the wellcap. This document from the CDC provides links for each state’s certification officer, who can direct you to proper water testing facilities.
- EPA: Perchlorate
This EPA document talks briefly about how perchlorate can disrupt thyroid function, and about the sources of perchlorate. The EPA has made a decision to regulate perchlorate, but they have not yet set a maximum contaminant level or started regulating this chemical. 4% of US Public water systems have untreated perchlorate.
- Environmental Working Group: Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water: Table 3: Contaminated Drinking Water Outside California
A table listing different areas with the corresponding levels of perchlorates in drinking water.
- Environmental Working Group: Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water: Table 4: Sites Where Top Soil or Ground Water is Contaminated by Perchlorate
A table listing different areas with corresponding levels of perchlorates in soil or groundwater.
- USGS Study: Pesticides in Groundwater
Pesticides can seep through soil and into the water table that supplies drinking water for 50% of the nation. This document from the USGS briefly describes how and why we should be concerned, and links to additional resources on pesticides in groundwater.
- The New York Times: Debating How Much Weedkiller is Safe in Your Water Glass
Recent studies have suggested that the current allowable levels of the weedkiller atrazine in drinking water might be linked to birth defects and low birth weight at levels as low as .1 part per billion. Unfortunately, the maximum contaminant level for atrazine is set at 3 parts per billion, and single-day spikes of up to 297 parts per billion are considered ‘safe.’ In total, approximately 33 million Americans have been exposed to atrazine in their tap water.
- Threatened Waters: Turning the tide on pesticide contamination (Download PDF)
Major studies have founds that pesticides and herbicides contaminate 100% of the studied surface water samples in the U.S. In the summer, when agricultural pesticide use is at its highest, concentrations of EPA-regulated pesticides can reach levels the maximum set by the EPA. Worse, the EPA has not established a limit for all of the pesticides found in water. Of the 24 that are monitored, only 14 are currently in use.
- Bathing and showering: Under-appreciated sources of water pollution from medicines
Scientists reported at a recent National Meeting of the American Chemical Society that bathing, showering and laundering, in addition to human waste, are major sources of active pharmaceuticals in groundwater. The chemicals enter the water supply due to medicated creams, lotions, gels and patches, and since they are unmetabolized, they enter waterways in a full-strength form.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- USGS Survey: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation’s Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply Wells (Download PDF)
This decade-long study found that one or more VOCs were detected in 90 of 98 aquifers tested across the US. Chloroform was the most frequently detected VOC, most often due to the chlorination of public water supplies.
- The Denver Post: Cleanup crews attack toxic goo in South Platte north of Denver
An oil spill of unknown origin has been leaking VOCs such as the carcinogenic benzene into the South Platte river, a primary source of drinking water for northeastern Colorado.
Why Those With City Water Should Be Concerned About Contaminants
- EPA: Aging Water Infrastructure Research (Download PDF)
Details how treated drinking water and wastewater delivery lines are aging across the US, and how this aging has been linked to higher instances of illness. Don’t miss the picture at the end that shows the inside of a water main that delivers treated water to homes.
- Is Your Water Causing Cancer? Dr Oz 3-part video series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Chromium-6 is water soluable, and has been found in many drinking water systems across the country. Unfortunately, it’s not yet regulated by the EPA and has been linked to kidney damage, liver damage, leukemia, and more. The effects of perchlorate, arsenic and lead in tap water are also discussed.
- EPA: Where You Live: Your Drinking Water Quality Reports Online
Enter your zip code to find your Consumer Confidence Report online.
- EPA: Microbials and Disinfection Byproducts (MDBP)
While the EPA regulates pathogens in public drinking water supplies, there is concern that certain microscopic pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium, are resistant to traditional disinfection practices. In addition, commonly used disinfectants can combine with microscopic organic matter in finished water and form harmful byproducts such as THMs (see above).