(by Sharon Udasin | The Hill) – Millions of Americans are unknowingly ingesting water that includes “an invisible toxic cocktail” of cancer-linked chemicals, a new survey of the nation’s tap water has found.
The Environmental Working Group’s 2021 Tap Water Database, available to the public as of Wednesday, revealed contamination from toxins like arsenic, lead and “forever chemicals” — perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — in the drinking water of tens of millions of households across all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C.
“The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water has demonstrated for decades that it is utterly incapable of standing up to pressure from water utilities and polluters to protect human health from the dozens of toxic contaminants in America’s drinking water,” EWG President Ken Cook said in a press statement.
To compile the database, EWG researchers and scientists spent two years collecting and analyzing U.S. water contaminants from almost 50,000 water systems, a news release from the group said. The researchers attributed their findings to “antiquated infrastructure and rampant pollution of source water,” as well as obsolete EPA regulations that rely “on archaic science” and “allow unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in drinking water.”
While compiling the database, the researchers also identified 56 new contaminants in American drinking water, which generally fell into two categories, according to an EWG spokesman. The two groups mostly include new PFAS compounds and chemicals found through the EPA’s fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring analysis, which amassed data on suspected drinking water contaminants that do not yet have health-based standards.
To view information on contaminants in a specific region, users can log into the database and enter their zip codes or click, and then scroll down to select the utility that serves their community. The database then shows the “contaminants detected,” stressing that “legal does not necessarily equal safe.”
“Getting a passing grade from the federal government does not mean the water meets the latest health guidelines,” the database cautions.
Washington, D.C., for example, has 13 contaminants that exceed EWG’s health guidelines, although the district does comply with legally mandated federal standards.
The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority’s drinking water has 58 times the amount of arsenic that the EWG deems safe, 1,200 times the amount of bromochloracetic acid, 328 times the amount of bromodichloromethane, 116 times the amount of chloroform and 4.3 times the amount of hexavalent chromium, according to the database. All of these contaminants have been shown to increase cancer risk.
New York City has 10 contaminants that exceed EWG’s health guidelines, while also complying with legally mandated federal standards. The city’s tap water has 73 times the amount of bromodichloromethane that EWG deems safe, 80 times the amount of chloroform and 2.1 times the amount of hexavalent chromium, according to the database. Read Full Article >