Tap Water Report

315 Pollutants in U.S. Tap Water

Since 2004, testing by water utilities has found 315 pollutants in the tap water Americans drink, according to an Environmental Working Group drinking water quality analysis.More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to health or safety regulations and can legally be present in any amount. Recent studies have found that even some of the chemicals regulated by the 2000 law pose risks at much smaller concentrations than previously known.The federal government has health guidelines for some, but 49 of these contaminants have been found at levels above those guidelines, polluting the tap water for 53.6 million Americans.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency  Government and independent scientists have identified hundreds of chemicals associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water.

  • Not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000. Many of the standards have not been updated since the 1980s. Some remain essentially unchanged since the 1974 law was passed.
  • More than 62 million Americans have been exposed since 2004 to drinking water that did not meet at least one commonly used government health guideline intended to help protect people from cancer or serious disease, according to an analysis byThe New York Times.
  • Mercury in the FishA U.S. Geological Survey showed 100 percent of the fish tested were contaminated with mercury. More than 25 percent were contaminated at levels higher than the threshold set for human consumption.

MERCURY IS A NEUROTOXIN THAT BUILDS IN THE FOOD CHAIN AT EVER HIGHER CONCENTRATIONS IN PREDATORS SUCH AS LARGE FISH AND HUMANS. IT CAN HAVE SEVERE EFFECTS ON ANYONE, BUT IS ESPECIALLY DAMAGING TO THE DEVELOPING NERVOUS SYSTEMS OF FETUSES AND CHILDREN. THE POLLUTANT ENTERS THE ENVIRONMENT ALMOST ENTIRELY AS ATMOSPHERIC EMISSIONS FROM INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES, PRINCIPALLY THE BURNING OF COAL. IT THEN SPREADS AND SETTLES, EVENTUALLY CONCENTRATING IN RIVERS, LAKES AND OCEANS, WHERE IT ENTERS THE FOOD CHAIN.

RECENT RULES HAVE BEEN ENACTED TO REDUCE CONTAMINATION FROM COAL MINING.

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