Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
By Chris Brown
Like many kids of the '90s I hardly ever drank filtered water growing up. I drank directly from sinks or hoses and even, one time, directly from a river (dangerous and highly not recommended). It is safe to say that I was never picky where my water was sourced. However, since reading about the horrible side-effects of tainted water in Flint, Mich., a few years ago, I have wondered if I should be more particular how I hydrate. What exactly is in our tap water in the U.S.? Is it worth getting a filter or stocking up on bottled water? I investigated the latest of U.S. water safety to find the answers.
Is Water Safe Out of the Tap?
The short answer is that, in most places in the United States, it is relatively safe. However, the long answer is a bit more complicated. Urban areas tend to have stricter regulations on water quality and newer water infrastructures than rural areas. The top risk of older infrastructures is lead from legacy lead piping, which was the culprit of the Flint water crisis in 2015. Some regions of the country have also had past issues with other dangerous contaminants seeping into the water table, such as arsenic (California, Arizona, and New Mexico), radium (Texas), copper (Detroit), and perfluorooctanoic acid.
Don't let the scary list of potential contaminants scare you away from the tap water altogether. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that water suppliers regularly test for contaminants and send annual water quality reports to its customers. In addition, water quality information can be found in a public Consumer Confidence Report, also required by the EPA. It is important to note that a passing grade does not always mean contaminant-free water.
As an example, let's take the water report of the metropolitan city of Montgomery, Ala. Though it passed EPA inspection for 2019, Montgomery had seven contaminants exceeding the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) health guideline limitations. The largest contaminant was bromodichloromethane, suspected of causing cancer, which exceeded EWG limits by 6.5 times.
It is therefore important to stay informed. Depending upon where your city ranks in water quality, you may want to consider a filter or purified water options. However, if you are one of the lucky Americans in clean water regions, you should be perfectly safe filling your glass straight from the city's tap.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Montgomery, Ala.