What Else Is In Your Water?

And Is It Safe To Drink?

Annual Water Quality Reports don’t include unregulated toxins

People often ask if we drink tap water at home. “Not if we can help it” is the honest answer, but I rarely say so. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel their choice is wrong simply because it’s not my choice. Anyway, we bathe in tap water and water the vegetable garden, too. Whatever your pleasure, we all ingest our regional tap water. We’re currently looking into the possibility of drilling a well, though I’ve yet to determine the cost. Luckily, Environmental Working Group has created a great tool to inform (and justify) our water investments.

Shouted out in Toxic Shockers by Alexa Joy Sherman in the July-August issue of Natural Health Magazine, The Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database is a font of information for water consumers. EWG reports there are “Over 300 Pollutants in US Drinking Water,” some of which are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, some aren’t.

Ya Gonna Drink That?

Plug your zip code into the search engine and you’ll get a full report on all the chemicals detected in your local tap water, including those which are “not subject to health or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount.”

The database also features fascinating general information about the state of the US water supply, and surprising factoids like this one:

Water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution in the first place.

So How’s The Water In Lower Merion, PA?

The Environmental Working Group Report on Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. (Aqua) – Valley Forge, PA
Serves 820,000 people – Test data available: 2004-2009
This drinking water quality report shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It is part of EWG’s national database that includes 47,667 drinking water utilities and 20 million test results. Water utilities nationwide detected more than 300 pollutants between 2004 and 2009. More than half of these chemicals are unregulated, legal in any amount. Despite this widespread contamination, the federal government invests few resources to protecting rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater from pollution in the first place. The information below summarizes test results for this utility and lists potential health concerns.

In this drinking water system, 6 chemicals exceeded Health Guidelines (the national average is 4), and 2 chemicals exceeded Health Standards (the national average is 0.5). Overall, 14 chemical pollutants were found.

Contaminants Exceeding Health Guidelines are:

Trihalomethanes
Haloacetic Acids
Tetrachloroethylene
Tricholorethylene
Dichloromethane
Carbon Tetrachloride

Other Detected Contaminants include:
Nitrate
1,1,1-Trichloroethane
cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene
Xylenes
Barium
Chromium
Selenium
Toluene

Of these pollutants, Barium, Chromium, Nitrate, Selenium, cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, Xylenes, Dichloromethane, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethylene, Tricholorethylene and Toluene are from industrial sources. Naturally occurring pollutants, such as Barium, Chromium, Nitrate and Selenium, are increased for lands denuded by sprawl, agriculture or industrial development.

Despite these findings, drinking water for the town of Bryn Mawr, PA, where AquaAmerica, AquaPA’s parent company is headquartered, ranked 49th in the nation in EWG’s Ratings of Big City Water. Philadelphia did not make the top 100.

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