For too many Americans, turning on their faucets for a glass of water is like pouring a cocktail of chemicals. Lead, arsenic, the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS and many other substances are often found in drinking water at potentially unsafe levels, particularly in low-income and underserved communities.
From the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., to widespread radium pollution in Brady, Texas, the perils of unsafe water are finally prompting lawmakers and regulators to weigh how to act.
What’s needed is major new federal funding to improve drinking water quality, pay for much-needed lead line replacements, help disadvantaged areas and start to tackle the widespread PFAS problem that has made headlines across the country.
EWG’s landmark Tap Water Database shows how polluted drinking water can be, and why the efforts to fix it at the source are vital. The database collects mandatory annual test reports from 2014 to 2019, produced by almost 50,000 water utilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
It reveals that when some Americans drink a glass of tap water, they’re also potentially getting a dose of industrial or agricultural contaminants linked to cancer, brain and nervous system damage, fertility problems, hormone disruption and other health harms.And those risks likely increase in underserved communities, particularly those with higher Black or Latino populations. EWG’s research finds that people living in such areas might have a greater collective risk of cancer from the contaminants in their drinking water supplies than people in other parts of the country.”