When compared to the developing world, the US has far cleaner and safer water supplies. The water that comes out of your faucet has been through a variety of treatments to comply with legally mandated contaminant thresholds. Additionally, you’ll receive regular reports for water quality violations in your area. So, it is fairly reasonable to assume that your tap water is safe to drink, but does that mean it is free of contaminants? In this article, we’ll explore the common contaminants that could be affecting your tap water.
Understanding the Water Supply Regulations
Before we discuss water contaminants, it is important to understand the regulations that influence your water quality. The Safe Drinking Water Act was established in 1974 and it is overseen by the EPA. This act sets the legal limits for over 90 drinking water contaminants. These levels are set to ensure that the contaminant will pose no anticipated health risk.
While this is designed to ensure consumers enjoy safe drinking water, there are some contaminants that alter the taste, smell and appearance of your water that are technically safe and have no set limit.
Common Contaminants in Tap Water
The EPA divides contaminants into six categories; disinfectants, disinfection by products, microorganisms, organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals and radionuclides. Some of the common examples, include:
- Disinfectants: chlorine and chloramine
- Disinfectant byproducts: chlorite, bromate and trihalomethanes
- Microorganisms: Legionella, Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium
- Organic chemicals: Benzene, Toluene, Glyphosate
- Inorganic chemicals: Arsenic, copper, lead, chromium and nitrate
- Radionuclides: Materials like radioactive alpha particles and uranium
Does This Mean Tap Water is Safe?
While the EPA has Maximum Contaminant Levels for over 90 contaminants, violations do sometimes occur. Problems at water treatment plants, breaks in water supply lines and other issues can mean that your water supply may contain higher levels of contaminants.
Unfortunately, when a violation does occur, it may not immediately be noticed. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan lasted almost five years before it was finally resolved. While this may be an outlier, a contaminant issue may occur and go unnoticed for several days. During this time, you and your family may be drinking unsafe levels of contaminants in your water supply.
Your municipal water supplier is obliged to report any contaminant violations, but there is the chance that damage could already have been done.
Protecting Your Family
The simplest way to ensure that your family is protected against any water contaminants is to install a water treatment system in your home. This will ensure that your water supply is passed through the system to remove potentially harmful contaminants.
The treatment system can be tailored to the specific water conditions in your area. For example, if you live in an agricultural area, there is a higher likelihood that your water supplies may be affected by nitrates from runoff.
Fortunately, your local water treatment specialist can assist you. An experienced technician can assess your water quality and potential issues in your geographical area to advise you of the treatment systems best suited to your water. This will ensure that your water supply will taste great and be safe for the whole family.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.