You can call it a quiet crisis. The National Drinking Water Alliance released an interactive map that tracks media reports of tap water contamination and the state actions taken in response. Keep in mind, that this map is only for reports that have surfaced in the media; it does not track any other incidents. Therefore, the actual number of contaminated sites may be much higher.
What Are Contaminants?
Our tap water comes from many sources. America’s aquifers, reservoirs, rivers, and lakes have supplied drinking water since the founding of the country. Water can be influenced by the content of the ground around it. For instance in an area that has significant uranium reserves, radioactivity can leach into the water. Source water can also be contaminated by the leaching of chemicals associated with agriculture or industry and biological contamination from human or animal waste. Some of the more common contaminants are listed below.
- Metals: Copper, lead, mercury, copper, silver, selenium, aluminum, and cadmium.
- Industrial contaminants: Ammonia, barium, cadmium, squirming, perchlorate, radium, uranium, nitrates and nitrites.
- Agricultural contaminants: Animal waste, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers.
- Biological contaminants: Bacteria such as E. coli, viruses such as Norovirus, parasites and cysts such as Cryptosporidium.
Emergent contaminants are a different category from those above. The drugs we take, the personal care products we use, and endocrine disrupting compounds are entering the water supply and are not addressed through typical treatments provided by water companies. The full scope of potential harm is not yet known.
Home Water Treatment
Moving to protect your home water supply is a simple matter. Installing equipment like a reverse osmosis system, ultraviolet treatment, and other measures will help to keep all the water entering your house to a high standard and free of contaminants. A reverse osmosis system can be installed either at each tap, or at the point of entry.