We hear the names of scary-sounding chemicals, when we catch bits and pieces in news reports. Environmental studies warn of perchlorate, the ingredient in rocket fuel which has been found in municipal drinking water systems in twenty-six states to date. And then there are the pesticides… and antibiotics… and E coli bacteria.
More than 60,000 chemicals are used across the country. That means about 60,000 potential contaminants that could get into our drinking water. Even more disturbingly, the EPA enforces limits on fewer than 100. What are the risks? And what’s just exaggerated hype? How can you make water safer in your home—and around the world?
Lisa Jackson is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and as such, is charged with keeping the nation’s public water systems safe. Ms. Jackson said in a recent interview with Reader’s Digest, “Back in the 1970s, contamination came out of the end of a pipe. You could see it—we actually had the Cuyahoga River on fire. We’ve made progress on that, but now we have to worry about what happens when it rains. Water runs over city streets, suburban lawns treated with fertilizer and pesticides, and agricultural lands that may also have been treated or have animal feeding operations, and into our rivers and streams. Runoff is now thought by most folks to be the biggest source of water pollution.”
Or consider the example of contamination caused by fracking. You may have heard the stories: incidents of families who can actually set fire to their water as it comes from the tap. This is clearly not what you want when your turn on the faucet for a refreshing glass of water. Methane is the gas responsible for the phenomenon of flammable tap water. It has even caused private wells and houses to explode. Natural gas has generally been regarded as environmentally friendly, but a new method of drilling for gas called hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is hardly green or clean.
The fracking process involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and over 900 toxic chemicals thousands of feet underground to release tiny pockets of gas by breaking up (fracturing) the rock where the gas is trapped. The process has been compared to detonating a pipe bomb deep in the earth. Chemicals used in the process are kept secret from the public, medical professionals and government regulators, because fracking is exempt from a key provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
What happens to all that water? Much of it stays underground, where no one is exactly sure what happens to it. The gas industry insists that the chemicals and gas never find their way into underground aquifers, but many cases of groundwater contamination prove that the opposite is the case.
Nationwide, state regulators have reported details of well over a thousand incidents of groundwater contamination related to fracking. Often water is so polluted with gas that people can literally light their tap water on fire. In addition to contamination underground, fracking generates enormous quantities of highly toxic—and even radioactive—wastewater, which is either left to evaporate into the air, or dumped into rivers and streams that feed our drinking water supplies. In places affected by fracking, many residents have become sick from dangerous levels of volatile organic compounds, chemicals and methane gas in their water.
For the rest of us not living in areas affected by fracking, a growing list of potentially detrimental chemicals continue to show up in the water we drink. Since 2004, tests by water utilities have found 315 pollutants in the tap water across the United States. This widespread pollution is well-documented in a water quality analysis of nearly 20 million public utility records, compiled and studied by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to safety or health regulations. The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001. Unregulated chemicals can legally be present in any amount. The federal government does have guidelines for some chemicals. Forty-nine of the regulated contaminants, however, have been detected at levels above those guidelines–polluting the drinking water of almost 54 million Americans.
Equipped with such startling statistics, filtering the water that comes from our tap just plain makes sense. The team at WaterFilters.NET is ready to help you find the solution best suited to contaminants in your local area. Consider a test kit to get started learning more about contamination in your drinking water. Then let us serve you with a whole house filter or reverse osmosis system to give you assurance in the water you drink.