The Scores are Out, the U.S. is Tanking, and NY & NJ are Barely Scraping the Bottom
Thinking Twice About Our Taps
Allow me to paint a familiar picture: It is Monday morning and you finally manage to roll out of bed. You groggily head to the sink to wash up, quickly fill up your water bottle as you head out to work, and sip your first coffee of the day as you sit (or stand, depending on your particular luck) through your morning commute. What do most of these habits have in common? Water. More specifically, tap water. Many of us rarely give it a second thought. Whether you’re rushing out of the house or quenching your thirst at the office, the safety of your drinking water may often seem like the one part of your day that you don’t have to worry about. However, recent analysis of tap water safety levels across the country reveals that our taps are much less reliable than we think, and the tri-state area is no exception to the rule.
New Jersey has long garnered attention for poor tap water quality. Most notably, Newark’s water supply was found to contain unsafe levels of lead, contaminating thousands of its residents and putting its children’s health at risk. While the state sources its water from clean, EPA-approved reservoirs, the problem arises as water flows through aging pipes, polluting fresh drinking water and causing health crises like Newark’s. Because the state can’t test each individual tap, the best way to find out if your health is at risk is to test your tap’s lead levels yourself. As an additional precaution, think about investing in a water purification device such as our H2O water cooler, which delivers clean, filtered water drawn from your nearest water source.
NYC’s Water Is Not The Crown Jewel We Think It Is
While New Jersey’s poor water quality may come as no surprise, New York City’s tap is often heralded as the cleanest in the country – right up there with our famous bagels and superb pizza. However, the truth is that our water contains some serious contaminants, and some of them may have health risks.
The New York City water system, which serves nearly 9 million people, contains 8 contaminants measured in levels above health guidelines established by a federal or state public health authority. NYC’s water supply contains particularly high levels of bromodichloromethane, chloroform, and trichloroacetic acid, all of which are chemicals formed as byproducts of chlorine and other disinfectants used to treat drinking water. This all may feel like a brain-squeezer, but the bottom line is that NYC’s water is not free of contaminants. Each of these chemicals has been linked to cancer, and while we did our own analysis to test that information, New Yorker’s should nonetheless be more aware of exactly what is flowing through their faucets.
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Are Federal Standards Really Up To Par?
While tap water quality is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the issue remains that certain pollutants have yet to be regulated, while some are authorized in amounts that scientists have sometimes found toxic. For example, under the federal Lead and Copper Rule, if lead concentrations measure less than 15 parts per billion (ppb) in 90 percent of customer taps sampled, the water utility in question remains within federal guidelines and the water flowing from their taps is deemed safe for drinking. However, some agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, report that lead concentrations below 15 ppb may still put children’s health at risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size. Additionally, a 2017 analysis done by the EPA found that water lead concentrations greater than 3.7 ppb may put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. This indicates that federal standards for water safety do not always align with high health standards.
Aside from sub-par water regulation laws, some substances contaminating our water aren’t regulated at all, including polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Found in non-stick substances such as Teflon, PFAS are used by thousands of manufacturers to create everything from carpets to cookware, and the disposal of these chemicals often contaminates local water sources. Rhea Suh, former president of the National Resources Defense Council, reported as recently as March 2019 that PFAS were found in the blood-streams of 98 percent of Americans and are linked to such health threats as thyroid disease and birth defects. There is much research left to be done regarding exact correlations between unregulated contaminants and specific health risks, but the fact remains that no tap water can always be assumed safe to drink. Check out the EWG’S tap water database to find out which contaminants were found in your zip code’s water supply, and click here to find out how to take the proper precautions to ensure your best health.
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