Reader, you may want to invest in a water filter.
Water utilities and regulators in the US have identified 56 new contaminants in drinking water over the past two years, a list that includes dangerous substances linked to a range of health problems such as cancer, reproductive disruption, liver disease, and much more.
The revelation is part of an analysis of the nation’s water utilities’ contamination records by the Environmental Working Group, a clean water watchdog that has now updated its database for the first time since 2019.
A “toxic cocktail” is not exactly what you want to think about when it comes to your drinking water.
— Monica (@MonicaAmarelo) November 3, 2021
It found that the jump is partly driven by newly identified PFAS, a toxic class of “forever chemicals” that are widely used across dozens of industries and are thought to be contaminating the drinking water for more than 100 million people. Pesticides, water disinfectant byproducts, and radioactive materials are among other substances identified by regulators. EWG is referring to the mix in the water supply as a “toxic cocktail” that Americans need to protect themselves from consuming regularly.
My new piece released today as part of @ewg's updated Tap Water Database. I analyzed nitrate contamination of drinking water in large and very large water systems across the U.S. 757 systems serving 59.5 million people had elevated levels of nitrate. https://t.co/btZCLQKklY
— Anne Schechinger (@Anne_Weir1) November 3, 2021
The list includes some substances that have been in production and used for years, but are only now being monitored by regulators as their links to health problems become clear. Other contaminants include those that the industry is only beginning to use in larger quantities, thereby leading to a more widespread impact on public health.
— EWG (@ewg) November 2, 2021
Many of the substances were identified as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unregulated contaminant monitoring rule (UMCR), which is one of the first steps in the regulation process. It tracks chemicals’ presence in some water systems and its aim is to provide the EPA with a picture of how widespread a chemical’s contamination is before new limits are established.
There is a very real chance that the Supreme Court will soon prohibit the EPA from limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. This is a horrifying grant. https://t.co/kMmvUS5dfW
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 29, 2021
Among other substances detected is HAA-9, a byproduct of the drinking water disinfection process. Regulators previously set limits for HAA-5, a contaminant in the same family that was found to cause health problems. The industry claimed HAA-9 was safe, but recent studies linked it to low birth rates, so the EPA is beginning to track it more closely.