The Environmental Working Group (EWG), recently completed a three-year investigation into the safety of drinking water that flows from taps in America. Their findings indicate that a large percentage of American drinking water may not be safe to consume.
After reviewing a database of 20 million water quality tests performed by water utilities, the EWG determined that a total of 316 contaminants were present in water supplied to 256 million Americans in 48,000 communities and 45 states. Among the contaminants were 202 chemicals that are not subject to any government regulation or safety standards, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set enforceable standards for only 114 of the 316 substances detected.
These contaminants, the EWG reports, come from various sources, including: factory farm waste; pesticides’ fertilizer and sediment; sewage and urban runoff; industrial chemicals; water treatment and distribution byproducts; and natural processes that produce more contamination as a result of development and deforestation.
Based on these findings, the EWG proposed a set of recommendations that call for:
- The EPA to construct and maintain a consumer-accessible national database of tap water quality testing.
- The EPA to greatly expand requirements for testing unregulated contaminants.
- Federally-mandated Consumer Confidence Reports issued by water utilities rule that disclose all detected contaminants.
- The EPA to set health-protective standards for unregulated chemicals in tap water.
- Federal programs that protect source water protection to be significantly expanded.
- Federal laws and policies must be updated to protect vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and children, from chemical pollution of food, the environment and especially drinking water.