Home Water Safety: What Toxins are In Your Water?
Is the water coming out of your tap safe to drink? Could toxins be seeping into the aquifer your city is tapped into? Is the bleach you use in your laundry room filtering down into the ground water?
Where to Turn for Answers
All of the above mentioned questions deserve honest answers. The place to start is the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW), which, along with other departments and entities, is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the national law for safeguarding tap water in the U.S.A. The law, called the Safe Drinking Water Act, went into effect in 1974. Before you contact OGWDW, city, county or state offices, however, be prepared. The following list contains questions to some of the concerns regarding drinking water that face U.S. citizens today.
- Where does my tap water come from? In most cases water is obtained from a nearby aquifer, but water can be pumped in from a neighboring aquifer that is many miles away.
- What water reports have been conducted in my town over the past 10 years? This will give you an idea of what types of contaminants have been found in the past, and how reliable their cleanup procedures were.
- How were found contaminants removed or cleaned? Each year by July 1 homeowners should have received a drinking water quality report in the mail from their local water supplier. This report should explain where the drinking water comes from, and list all of the ingredients found in it.
Visit the local waste water treatment plant. Ask for a tour. Get to know how your water is recycled. In addition, have your tap water checked. Ask that water samples be taken from each faucet in the house. Some contaminants, such as lead and copper, can leach from outdated pipes in certain sections of the house, depending on if and when work has been done on the pipes over the years.
What if Contaminants are Found?
Many people who feel uncomfortable using tap water often buy bottled water, but bottled water is not as pure as one might believe. In 2008, the Environmental Working Group tested 10 top selling bottled water brands and found they all contained a different variety of contaminants, including industrial chemicals, bacteria and fertilizer, to name a few. It was further noted that approximately 45 percent of all bottled water came directly from some type of municipal water source. If chemicals and toxins are discovered in your drinking water, check with the local Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine if these chemicals and toxins are
- Of acceptable levels
- Unique to the aquifer and/or location of your town
- Unique to your home
- Removable, and if so, how?
Some toxins and other chemicals, both natural and man made, are considered acceptable in drinking water at miniscule levels. Check with the city and county offices for information on which chemicals are safe, and at what levels. If testing determines that your drinking water exceeds these levels, a copy of the results should be taken both to the county and to the state for further evaluation. Types of contaminants often found in tap water include:
- VOC (volatile organic compounds)
EPA regulations and rules do not necessarily apply when the safety of water in private wells is under fire. While the EPA does suggest that private well owners have their water tested annually, that responsibility falls on the property owner. In today's world of surface and ground water contaminations, assuming either public or private drinking water is safe, if it hasn't been tested, is foolhardy. After tests have been completed and any and all contaminants removed, further assurance can be found in the purchase of a state of the art water purifier.