What's in Your Drinking Water
Millions of people in the U.S. are drinking tap water that fails to meet federal safety and health standards.
What Common Contaminants Are in Our Drinking Water?
Do you know what contaminants are in your drinking water? Some drinking water contaminants are harmless, while others, if consumed at certain levels, can be harmful. A "contaminant" is defined as anything other than water molecules, which includes elements and compounds that are both manmade and naturally occurring.
Chemical Contaminants in Water
Examples of these chemical contaminants, include:
Biological Contaminants in Water
There are also a number of biological contaminants (commonly called microbes) found in water, including:
Physical Contaminants in Water
Organic material found in our water supply such as sediment and sulfates may not be harmful, but it does affect the taste and smell of water, making it less desirable to drink.
Drinking Water Contaminants Regulated by the EPA
More than 60,000 chemicals/contaminants are found in the U.S. water supply, yet only 90 contaminants are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations set allowable legal limits of the 90 contaminants, and include methods municipal water suppliers must follow to properly treat.
Currently, there are hundreds of contaminants NOT regulated by the EPA. Every five years the EPA reviews of the list of unregulated drinking water contaminants to decide if commonly-found contaminants should be added to the list of regulated drinking water contaminants.
An increasing number of Americans say they are 'concerned about the overall quality of their water supply', and for good reason.
A 2019 Water Quality Association (WQA) commissioned study of consumers' opinions and perceptions regarding water quality, looked at Americans’ attitudes and concerns about their water. The study determined that "Most Americans are somewhat knowledgeable about what contaminants might be found in their water supply."
Is Your Drinking Water Safe?
Public Water Supply
Four out of five (80%) of U.S. households get their water from a public water supplier. While municipal suppliers do their best to test, monitor and treat the water, contaminants can still infiltrate aquifers and springs, and existing infrastructure (pipes that carry water to your home) can also introduce contamination--even after water has been treated at the municipal water plant.
More than 19 million U.S. households are on private wells. If you get your water from a household well, you are responsible to monitor and routinely test the water. Studies show that at any given time, at least 40 percent of private wells are contaminated with E coli bacteria and other illness-causing microbes.
How to Test Water Quality
In order to understand what contaminants are in your water, there are a few different ways to test your drinking water.
1. Pay for a water sample to be tested by a certified testing laboratory
2. Purchase a DIY water test kit at your local home improvement store
How is Drinking Water Purified?
There are four common water treatment methods used in residential settings.
1) Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration is the most common household method to treat drinking water at the kitchen sink. RO water filters are a chemical-free, economical way to improve the taste and odor of water. Generally, we do not recommend whole-house reverse osmosis systems. We encourage you to learn more about reverse osmosis water filtration.
2) UV Water Disinfection and Filtration is becoming increasingly popular as a whole-house water treatment system. UV water sterilizers can effectively remove 99.99% of viruses, bacteria and other microbes in household water. They're safe, powerful, and require very little maintenance. UV disinfection is one of the best methods for protecting private well water from illness-causing microbes. You can learn more about UV water treatment methods here.
3) General Water Filtration includes water softening to remove calcium and magnesium in household water. Some depending on the content of their water, some households also install sediment prefilters in front of any other water treatment system installed.
4) Distillation is where water is purified by passing through the evaporation and condensation process. Because distillation requires a lot of energy to produce a small amount of purified water, we do not recommend or carry water distillation systems.