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The Health Effects Of Drinking Water Contamination

U.S. drinking water contains more than 2100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer.

Ralph Nader Research Institute

The following report summarizes factual information on tap water quality and its effects on human health. For information on bottled water quality and the misconceptions surrounding it, refer to Bottled Water: Is it Hip or Hype?. (New Link) Our hope is that you will take a moment to review this valuable information and consider your drinking water alternatives. Increased awareness of this serious issue can only benefit us all. We also hope that you will review the product information offered on Aquasana Pure Water Systems, the highest rated home water filtration products in America. After reading this page you can tour the rest of our site for additional topics of interest or visit our product catalog for great savings on Aquasana purchases. Once you have all the facts, the decision is easy.

There are many causes of tap water contamination, ranging from agricultural runoff, to improper use of household chemicals, and everything in between. Few of us realize the extent or impact of these low level synthetic chemicals in the water we use. While the standard use in our society of over 80‚000 different synthetic chemicals has offered added convenience and productivity to our lives‚ it has also come at a tremendous price... drastic increases in degenerative disease.

In the early 1900s‚ before chlorine‚ pesticides‚ herbicides and the tens of thousands of other chemicals we are exposed to every day were in existence‚ the average American possessed a 1 in 50 chance of getting cancer; today 1 in 3 Americans can expect to get cancer during their lifetime‚ including 1 in every 2 males.

Our use of man-made chemicals has become so extreme that we can now find traces of these low level SOCs (synthetic organic chemicals) in virtually every public water supply around the world. A recent report by the Ralph Nader Study Group‚ after reviewing over 10‚000 documents acquired through the Freedom Of Information Act‚ confirmed, "U.S. drinking water contains more than 2100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer."

We have learned that any chemical we use in our society will eventually wind up in our water supplies. There is simply no "new" water! Through its hydrologic cycle, our planet re-uses the same water over and over. And as our use of SOCs increases, so increase the toxicity of our water. Earth's natural filtration process is not effective at removing these toxic SOCs... nor is municipal water treatment. Industry, agriculture, and individuals all contribute to the problem. Many of the contaminants found in water can be traced back to improper or excessive use of ordinary compounds, such as lawn chemicals‚ gasoline, dry cleaning solvents, and cleaning products.

Once we realize that all water that goes down the drain (whether is it is used on our lawns‚ on our agricultural fields, or into the environment by any other means) eventually winds up in the water we drink‚ we begin to see just how vulnerable our water supplies really are.

Our municipal water treatment facilities do not remove SOCs and typically consist only of sand bed filtration and disinfection‚ much like a standard swimming pool filter. For the most part‚ today‘s water treatment facilities are much the same as they were at the turn of the century; the standard remains to filter out the visible particles and add bleach!

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, "Drinking water plants are old and out of date‚ and water supplies are increasingly threatened and contaminated by chemicals and microorganisms."

Carol Browner, chief of the U.S. EPA further adds, "The way we guarantee safe drinking water is broken and needs to be fixed."

One of America‘s leading authorities on water contamination‚ Dr. David Ozonoff of the Boston University Of Public Health, has warned‚ "The risk of disease associated with public drinking water has passed from the theoretical to the real."

Many illnesses that, in the past, could not be linked to any probable cause have now been linked to toxins in our drinking water. The U.S. Council On Environmental Quality states, "While levels of these carcinogens (SOCs) in drinking water are low, it is precisely these low levels that carcinogen specialists believe to be responsible for the majority of human cancers in the U.S."

The use of pesticides and herbicides has become so excessive that they are now found, with alarming frequency, in household tap water and bottled water.

A 1998 study of 29 major U.S. cities by the Environmental Working Group found that all 29 cities had traces of at least one weed killer in the drinking water. The report, titled "Weed Killers By The Glass," concluded, "Millions of Americans are routinely exposed to one or more pesticides in a single glass of tap water."

These first ever "tap water tests" found two or more pesticides in the drinking water of 27 of the 29 cities‚ three or more in 24 cities‚ four or more in 21 cities‚ five or more in 18 cities‚ six or more in 13 cities, and seven or more pesticides in the tap water of 5 major U.S. cities. In Fort Wayne‚ Indiana‚ nine different pesticides were found in a single glass of tap water!

As a startling side note‚ it was reported that, in these 29 cities‚ 45‚000 infants drank formula mixed with tap water containing weed killers and that "over half of these infants were swallowing 4 to 9 chemicals in every bottle!"

The tragic health effects of consuming these highly toxic chemicals are magnified many times over for small children, due to their sensitive and developing systems. Small children also consume a much larger volume of fluids per pound of body weight and, therefore, ingest a larger dose of chemical contaminants. Still, none of these factors are considered when the EPA‘s maximum contaminant levels are set. The National Academy of Sciences issued a report in 1993 on this subject and stated, "Children are not little adults; their bodies are less developed and simply incapable of detoxifying certain harmful compounds."

Another major flaw in the estimated risks of chemicals in our drinking water is the false assumption that only one chemical is being consumed at a time. The regulations are set based on what is assumed to be safe for a 175-pound adult drinking water with only one chemical present. They do not take into account the combined toxicity of two or more chemicals.

In a 1995 Science Advisory Report to the EPA‚ it was stated, "When two or more of these contaminants combine in our water, the potency may be increased by as much as 1000 times!"

It has been shown that areas with the highest levels of SOCs in their water supplies also have the highest incidence of cancer.

Jacquelyn Warren of the Natural Resources Defense Council commented on this subject: "The one thing we know for sure about toxins in our drinking water is that the more we look, the more we find."
 
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