Since tap water in the United States is known to be safe for drinking purposes, many people take water purity for granted. Unlike many developing countries, U.S. water supplies ensure that the water remains free of hazardous contaminants that can pose a threat to your health. However, illnesses due to the presence of contaminants in drinking water have been reported from time to time. According to Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in December 2014, the residents of Charleston, West Virginia, and Toledo, Ohio, were ordered to stop consuming tap water due to the potential risk of contamination. These issues are not common; however, it is best to keep an eye on the quality of your household water to determine whether it is safe for drinking or not.
Who Regulates U.S Drinking Water?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looks after the water purity in the United States. Similarly, the states and the federal government ensure safety within the public drinking water systems. About 85% of the people living in the United States consume water from public systems, and the other 15% of Americans get water from private wells. The EPA does not oversee the rules and regulations about the private wells; however, they provide information about wells, including the importance of getting your water tested every year to ensure its safety.
What’s the Status of U.S Water Supplies?
According to Mae C. Wu, the senior attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) health and environment program, “I would say that things are getting better. In the world, we have among the safest drinking water.” On the other hand, Monica Lee, the spokesperson at EPA, stated, “Through the passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and subsequent amendments in 1986 and 1996, we have improved public health protection from bacteria, arsenic, lead, disinfectants, and disinfection byproducts.”
Despite their efforts in restoring the quality of water, in 2014, the residents of Toledo were ordered to stop drinking tap water due to the presence of algae-related toxins from Lake Erie that increased to a hazardous level in the water. Similarly, it was reported that the water supply was shut down in Charleston due to a chemical spill in the water. As a result, regulators have focused on checking the quality of tap water and the entire water process from the source to tap. According to the EPA, they are working on cleaning up the supply upstream that includes ground as the primary source of drinking water, which can be contaminated with various hazards such as pesticides, arsenic, and agricultural, industrial, and resource extraction wastes. In addition, the EPA has assured that water safety is improving; however, its quality is likely to change over time due to the development of new chemicals in the water.
Which Water Contaminants Matter the Most?
According to Mae C. Wu, having a top 10 list of worrisome contaminants can be very difficult because it is dependent on where you live and several other factors, including the age of your house. For example, a 100-year-old house is likely to develop contaminants such as lead in its water system. However, newly built homes are less likely to have similar problems within their water system. On the other hand, people living on farms need to test their water for pesticide levels.
The EPA has listed down the following common contaminants that may include viruses that can further cause gastrointestinal issues within people.
Giardia lamblia: It comes from animal and human feces that can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Bromite: It is a byproduct of disinfection linked to some types of cancers and other long-term health conditions.
Arsenic: It is originated from the runoff from orchards that can cause circulatory problems.
According to a study conducted by the Endocrine Society, some of the endocrine-disruptive chemicals can cause reproductive disorders. For example, girls are likely to start their periods earlier, development problems, and some types of cancers. The list of endocrine disruptors includes the following contaminants.
Bisphenol A, or BPA: It is commonly found in canned foods.
Phthalates: They are plasticizers used in manufacturing plastics.
Triclosan: It is found in antibacterial soaps.
How to Determine the Quality of Water?
Using the following steps, you can test the quality of water running through your taps.
1. Find Out How Often Your Water Supply is Tested
The EPA schedules the testing of specific pollutants in the water supply; however, the testing schedule is likely to get delayed very often.
2. Look At Your Water Facility’s Consumer Confidence Report
Your water bill for the month of July includes the consumer confidence report every year. It may include the presence of contaminants and their effects on health.
3. Test Your Drinking Water on Your Own
If you are curious to know the level of contaminants in your water supply, you can contact your nearby plumber to test your water.
If you have noticed a slight change in water quality in your home, seek help from Mesa Plumbing Company. Their team will visit your place to ensure the quality of water running through your taps.