Americans Deserve Access to Better Drinking Water
It may be safe to assume that since drinking water is regulated, it is safe for consumption. After all, there are EPA standards for chemicals in tap water; except West Virginia’s water quality is notoriously poor. Chemical plants along the Ohio Valley, such as DuPont, have polluted the Ohio River, one of the main sources of drinking water. DuPont’s infamous PFA/PFOA contamination, highlighted in the movie Dark Waters, occurred when the carcinogenic “forever chemical” that never breaks down was found in landfills and water supply in Parkersburg, WV. This chemical that was once used to make nonstick pans has been linked to several cancers. WOUB.org reported, “Kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and thyroid disease are some of the maladies that were linked to exposure of PFOA.”
West Virginia is not the only state with water quality issues. TheConversation.com reported that the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University found 43 states with PFA contaminants. Unfortunately, PFA’s are only one type of many harmful chemicals found in tap water all over the United States.
Drinking water does pass EPA inspection despite traces of pollutants. In February 2020, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated that over 92% of community water systems meet the standard requirements. However, 92% is a surprisingly low number for how important it is to have access to clean water. There are a concerning amount of water treatment facilities that pass federal standards but violate the EWG health guidelines. It’s important to take into consideration that the EWG holds a higher standard for drinking water , but they reported that federal tap water guidelines have not been updated in almost 20 years.
So what can you do to protect your health? Activated carbon filters like Brita are a more inexpensive option. They filter PFOA and TTHMs, which are disinfectant byproducts from water treatment, but they miss chemicals such as nitrate and radium, which are pollutants from farming and oil and gas industries. Reverse osmosis filters seem to be the best option; these filters are more of an investment, but they get rid of most contaminants compared to other systems. To find the best water filter for you, visit the EWG Tap Water Database online and locate your local facility; you may be surprised to see what was found in your water.