*This article has been updated June, 2020.
It is disturbing to think that we could be drinking pesticides, antibiotics, arsenic or lead in our tap water. Human beings need to stay hydrated, but with safe water. The good news is that we are able to find out what is in our tap water and use filters to remove the contaminants.
If your tap water comes from your community’s water system, you should receive an annual water quality report under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It is important to read it!
Annual water report – what to look for:
- Violations – this means that the specified contaminant exceeds the maximum allowed by the EPA.
- All contaminant levels – the Level Detected column shows what your tap water contains. Compare this number to the column of the maximum (MCL – Maximum Contaminant Level) amount allowed by the EPA.
If there are violations, your community is supposed to lower any excessive contaminant levels.
One in seven Americans get their primary drinking water from a private well. If your tap water comes from a well, your water is not regulated by the EPA. You should definitely have your water tested. EPA guidelines advise that private wells should be tested annually preferably by state-certified labs.
Water filters – what to consider:
- Make sure you get a filter that will remove the specific contaminates in your tap water.
- Get a water filter that is independently certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association or a similar organization.
- Make sure you maintain your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Is bottled water better? We think of bottled water as being safer than tap water but that is not necessarily the case. Twenty-five to thirty percent of all bottled water comes from municipal tap water systems. NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has conducted extensive tests on bottled water and has found that it is “subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.” We have a guarantee of safety with our tap water that we don’t have with bottled water. The FDA oversees the standards of bottled water but it does not have the ability to oversee a mandatory testing program the way the EPA does with public water suppliers. The FDA can order a recall of a particular bottled water if a problem develops, but it cannot be certain that the bottled water you just bought is safe.
The bottom line is that everyone should have safe tap water. The federal law regulating tap water is 40 years old and very out of date. Only 91 contaminants are regulated by our Safe Drinking Water Act, but research shows that hundreds of unregulated contaminants might be in our tap water. While they might be at low levels, no research has been done to know what happens when they are mixed together and humans consume them over a lifetime.
While we are waiting for the government to update its list of the contaminants it tests for, we can do our small part in not polluting our water system.
- Don’t flush unused pills or liquid prescriptions or medicines down the toilet or throw them in the trash – both types of disposals might take them into our water system. Return them to your drugstore for safe disposal.
- Try to use more natural products because the fewer chemicals you use the fewer end up in our tap water.
- Urge new and updated environmental legislation, like the proposal to require companies to provide health and environmental information for new substances to prove that they are safe.
Are you wondering if about the quality of the water in your home?