What Scientists Have To Say
There are potentially dozens of reasons why you need to check the tap water in your home before even considering drinking it. Recently, Flint, Michigan was on the news headlines, because of something nobody expected: tainted tap water. A study showed that thousands of people in the city are exposed to dangerously high levels of lead and low levels of chlorine in their water supply. According to http://www.sciencemag.org/, between 2014 and 2017, “Residents also suffered the third largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in U.S. history, with at least 87 people infected and 12 dead.” How did this happen?
The dots on this map from EWG show areas where public drinking water was contaminated with either nitrates or trihalomethanes, a harmful chemical byproduct of the water treatment process.screenshot/ewg.org
An environmental microbiologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada states, it’s “probably the first time” scientists have seen clear evidence of a relationship between chlorine levels and Legionnaires’ disease. But not all experts are convinced the relationship is straightforward.” Flint is not the only state that residents have to suffer from contaminated tap water, there are other states where residents have also complained.
In 2004, Environmental group lab tests detected toxic Chromium-6 in US tap water. Though the situation is a lot better, it is estimated that nearly 21 million residents relied on getting water from community systems that violated water quality standards. The study done by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America) found that community systems are violating water quality standards which puts all residents at risk. The water in our taps is not safe for human consumption. It has contaminants that pose danger to the public health and may lead to diseases.
What scientists say about tap water in the US?
Different scientists have different opinions about the level at which they consider tap water to be safe for human consumption. For example, in a report published on EWG, scientists claimed that about 14 million US residents use contaminated water. The water mostly has cancer-causing industrial solvents which are harmful and even deadly to the people of the US. The conclusion about the test was made public during EPA retreats, under Trump. The chemical found in the tap water was TCE or trichloroethylene, which is very harmful to humans. The retreats even suggested the chemical not to be used again in treating water.
The level of pollutants in tap water fluctuates all year round. EWG map shows the overall level of TCE as something to be concerned about. People whose water is polluted by this chemical may inhale it when washing dishes , showering, bathing and other everyday activities. According to the report, “The health risk from TCE is greatest for children because of their small size – on a body weight basis, they breathe in more air and drink more water each day than older children or adults.”
In 2017, the EPA research found toxins from HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms) increasingly contaminating water sources in America. Treatment facilities faced a daunting task trying to remove the toxins. The process was costly and effective, but still, somehow the toxins manage to reach your home through the faucet. In new studies, scientists are finding new potential problems that can help put new regulations for water companies distributing tap water to US residents. However, even by that time you would need to be extra cautious about your drinking.
Other scientists like CSIRO scientist Dr. Dong Han Seo claims that almost a third of the people living in the world don’t have safe drinking water. The figure is some 2.1 billion people. He continues to say “As a result, millions — mostly children — die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year.” So it is not in America alone, but people from different places face the same issue of not having clean and safe water.
Is Fluoridated Drinking Water Safe?
Does Fluoridating water make it safer ? is a big question as there are countries that are not fluoridating water and have cavities. Right from mid-1940s, mineral fluoride compounds are being added to water supplies in the U.S to fight tooth decay. In addition, the fluoridated toothpastes and several other products also promote dental health. The U.S. Public Health Service, in 53 years for the first time, recommended fluoride levels to be decreased in drinking water.
In the 20th century, it was informed by scientists that fluoride in high levels in water supplies decreased tooth decay. Thus, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1945, added fluoride to tap water. As subsequent studies revealed a low cavity rate, this caught in the air covering all the cities and town.
Now, experts doubt this scientific basis. In 2015, global independent researchers studied and found that water fluoridation was truly effective in decreasing tooth decay only among children, but it did not meet the criteria of effectiveness in preventing cavities in adults. They say the investigations done before 1975 were flawed and the later studies failed to consider the toothpastes and other fluoride supplements also working to fight cavities. This explains the big cavity rates in countries that deny water fluoridation.
Moreover, at high levels, fluoride itself may be dangerous, as it can cause fluorosis—changes in tooth enamel. Fluoride can also change the bone tissue’s structure and weaken the skeleton.
What is more worrisome is that research on animals showed that high levels of fluoride may be toxic to brain and nerve cells. Possible links to learning, memory and cognition deficits have been identified by epidemiological studies on human populations with fluoride exposures higher than those typically provided by U.S. water supplies.
How then do you make your tap water safe for drinking?
There is a range of dangerous pollutants found in tap water (check out our article on what actually is in your tap water). In the US, bacteria like toxi Algae, E.coli and other have been found in tap water (check out our article on tap water and diseases). Also, other toxins like excess iron, lead, sulfur, dirt, and grit are known to cause health hazards in the nations. However, there are various steps you can take to make your tap water safe for drinking. The most effective way of making your tap water safe for drinking is filtration. Check out our article How to safely drink tap water for more information.
When it comes to tap water, you need to look beyond the clean water you see with your naked eye. Scientists have found potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and chemicals that cause health complication, especially to children, the elderly and pregnant women. These people are prone to the danger of unsafe tap water. Make sure your household is safe from drinking unsafe tap water by using water filters to make your drinking water safe.