The Government Will Fix My Water - Legal Vs. Safe
If you happen to believe that, you probably better stop reading this right about now. Many Americans don't even think twice about drinking a glass of water. However, a report recently released by the Environmental Working Group found more than 270 harmful contaminants in local drinking water across the nation. These substances are linked to cancer, damage to the brain and nervous system, hormonal disruption, problems in pregnancy and other serious health conditions.
The nonprofit Environmental Working Group, collaborating with outside scientists, aggregated and analyzed data from almost 50,000 local water utilities in all 50 states. What they found may shock some people, but it only reinforces what I already know: "Do not believe that it is in any way safe to drink your tap water!"
A spokesman for the Environmental Working Group said this:
"Legal does not necessarily equal safe. A lot of these legal limits are outdated and not necessarily the safe level "
In other words, the government may say that a certain level of a particular contaminant may be legal, but there may be other scientific evidence that such a level may still pose a great danger if the water is ingested. The fact remains, that on any given day, hundreds, maybe thousands of municipal water supplies may be unsafe, but the reality is that the existing standard may not reflect what modern science really knows about the safe levels of such contaminants.
For years, 50 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic was considered safe. Then, in light of recent scientific studies and new information, the USEPA dropped the safe level to below 10 ppb - 5 times below what was once regarded as safe!
Right about now there are a number of other contaminants that the EPA either doesn't regulate, slightly regulates or regulates wrongly. If you ask your water company if your water is safe, they will probably say something like: "It meets all government safety standards." There are two caveats here: (1) There is an "averaging" involved, which means that on certain days the contaminant level may be over the safe level, while the "average" remains OK; and (2) the current government standards may not tell the entire story or even be at a "safe" level.
The fact of the matter is that the government standards may be based on studies that are 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years out of date or that there may not even be standards for newly "emerging" contaminants for which we have no clue as to the long-term effects. We are just pretty sure that ingesting water laced with these contaminants can be extremely dangerous.
If you wonder what is in your municipal water, you can go to the Environmental Water Groups website: www.ewg.org and enter your zip code to find out information on nearly 50,000 American water utilities. EWG has also developed its own "NO COMPROMISE SAFETY STANDARDS" based upon the latest scientific evidence. Their standards are somewhat more strict than ERA standards, but in light that they are designed to protect your health, shouldn't they be? I have no quarrel with that.
I believe that the Environmental Water Group is providing a great service to all Americans by helping them understand what is in their water and the health effects of such contaminants. Where I differ from the EWG, is I do not believe it is the government's duty to provide water to the masses as if it is to be internally consumed. After all, less than 1% of the water treated by a municipal water treatment plant is for internal consumption.
Much of the water is used for manufacturing, firefighting, irrigation, flushing toilets, and cleaning. On what level does it actually make sense to treat all the water as if it is to be consumed internally when less than 1% is for that expressed purpose? Maybe in a vacuum, it might make sense but due to aging water treatment infrastructures, the cost to treat all the water as if it is for drinking could cause water bills to increase 5 to 10 fold.
To me, that makes no sense and I predict it will never happen when the real cost is calculated. The EWG says that when it comes to safe drinking water, there can be no compromise. While we agree on the necessity of safe drinking water, I happen to disagree that all the water should be treated as if it were to be internally consumed. I believe that it makes the most sense to treat the water at the "point-of-use" to the desired degree of purity required. You need higher quality water to wash your body and clothes than you do to flush your toilet and you need even higher quality water for cellular hydration.
I believe in eating healthy foods, but I think it's an individual choice. If you want to stuff your piehole with Big Macs and drink rotgut whiskey, you can make that choice. I have seen people complain about their water quality while eating junk food, smoking a cigarette and drinking things a lot more poisonous than water.
I do acknowledge that not everyone can afford to treat their water and believe that vouchers and subsidies can help the ones who don't have the means to do so. Point-of-use and point-of-entry water treatment are obvious answers to our water issues across the nation. PFOA's, trichloroacetic acid, trihalomethanes, nitrate, nitrite, dibromochloromethane, hexavalent chromium, and many other contaminants are a major concern to most Americans on municipal water supplies.
The threat is real. The solution is simple and does not involve wasting hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild aging infrastructures to treat all the water as if it were to be consumed, when in fact, 99% of it is not for that purpose whatsoever. What a waste of resources when the answer is perfectly clear!