within the 48 Contiguous United States
Despite the amazing modern standards of safety and cleanliness that we enjoy in the world today, there is unfortunately still no guarantee that the water from your tap is safe or healthy to drink. And the data on water contamination make that fact all too clear.
The only way you can be sure that the water you are drinking is clean, healthy, and safe, is by taking measures yourself to guarantee good drinking water for you and your loved ones. As you’ll see from the following information, purified drinking water is still essential today.
The Town with Brown Water (2017)
In a May 2017 report by a Missouri Fox affiliate, entitled, “Town with brown water has no record of cleaning its water tower,” the local news station asked readers:
“Imagine brown water from your faucet or a tub that filled up with what looked like acid water. It’s not unusual for people to see it in one small Missouri town that has ignored critical maintenance.
Water towers are often the most visible part of where your water comes from, but Fox 2 News found it’s the first thing many utilities neglect. Missouri residents have died from dirty water towers, yet the state has no requirement for cleaning them.”
The state of Missouri has no statute on the books requiring cleaning of city water supply storage tanks. Most other states don’t either. And the consequences are potentially fatal.
When the city of Leadwood, Missouri hired Ron Perrin’s Water Technologies company to inspect and clean its water tower for the first time in 17 years, what he found was a few inches of sediment in the tank. Perrin said: “There’s no rule saying they have to do something. It’s easy to get put off.”
Deaths Caused by No Water Regulations
Perrin showed the local news the video his team took and told them
“Here we’re looking at a few inches of sediment. Most tanks we inspect have three inches or less, but every once in a while we find a facility that has feet instead of inches. You never know what you have until you look… even viruses can make home in the sediment.”
The EPA has already documented seven deaths caused by dirty water in another Missouri city’s water tank in Gideon, Missouri in 1995 after “pigeon droppings on the tank roof were carried into the tank by wind and rain through a gap in the roof hatch.” The EPA also documented “44% of the city’s residents were affected by diarrhea.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources studied the state’s water supply problem in 2006 and issued a report warning that “25 percent or more of tanks may be contaminated.”
PFCs Pollute Tap Water for 15 Million People (2017)
If it’s not 17 years’ worth of sediment in your city water supply’s water tower, or pigeon droppings and deadly viruses, it can be toxic chemicals used by American industries that end up contaminating the water table and finding their way into the water that comes from your tap.
PFCs (or Perfluorinated Chemicals) are manufactured chemical compounds that make products we use every day more resistant to stains, grease, and water. The National Institutes of Health gives some more insight:
“For example, PFCs may be used to keep food from sticking to cookware, to make sofas and carpets resistant to stains, to make clothes and mattresses more waterproof, and may also be used in some food packaging, as well as in some firefighting materials. Because they help reduce friction, they are also used in a variety of other industries, including aerospace, automotive,building and construction, and electronics.”
The trouble with PFCs is they break down very slowly in the environment, and the half life of PFCs in the human body— the time it takes for 50% of the chemicals to be eliminated— is several years.
The Damage Caused by PFCs in Your Water
During that time these highly fluorinated toxic chemicals can wreak havoc on your health. They have been linked to increased risk for cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity, and other health problems.
In June 2017 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston published research detailing the extent of PFC contamination in tap water supplies, finding that the chemical affects the drinking water of 15 million Americans in 27 states from more than four dozen industrial and military sources from Maine to California.
A Nationwide Problem
EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern collaborated to create an interactive map of the water crisis based on federal drinking water data and information on all publicly documented cases of PFAS pollution from manufacturing plants, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites.
On the map, the blue circles mark public water systems in which PFC contamination has been detected and documented. The size of the circle indicates the number of people served by the system. The total area of the blue circles represents 15 million Americans drinking from water supplies that have been contaminated with PFCs. The red dots mark the sources of contamination on Northeastern’s PFAS Contamination Site Tracker.
It’s Up to You
Just as there are no requirements in most states for city water supplies to inspect and clean their water storage tanks at regular intervals, there are no federal regulations or requirements for cities to maintain water supplies with PFCs below a certain level. Instead there is only a non-binding EPA health advisory level, and many experts think it’s still too high.
Keeping yourself and your family safe and healthy as you drink from city water supplies is clearly a responsibility that has been left up to you alone. Like many other potentially harmful organic chemicals, as well as protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, PFCs can be easily removed from the water in your home with a water purifier.
These large molecules tumble into the purifier and get trapped inside, filtering them out of your water and leaving you with what you came to your tap for: Just water