(WXYZ) — A toxic cocktail of chemicals in our tap water could lead to cancer – that’s according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group.
It’s called a toxic cocktail because our drinking water contains a mix of contaminants
The Environmental Working Group or EWG for short calculated the combined health impact of 22 carcinogens in over 48,000 community water systems nationwide. And they’re estimating that these chemicals all-together, could result in over 100,000 cancer cases over a lifetime, which is about 70 years. Now about 87 percent of these estimated cases are tied to arsenic and the byproducts of chemicals used to disinfect our water. The rest are linked to radioactive chemicals like uranium and radium. Now this assessment is only for those drinking tap water, it’s not for anyone who gets their drinking water from a private well.
Are our water systems meeting legal standards?
For the most part yes, the large majority of systems tested were in compliance and met legal drinking water standards. So it’s not because of water crises like what we had in Flint, with mismanagement and old lead pipes. Now, if water systems are meeting the standards you would think that our water is safe. But here’s the problem. Government agencies assess water pollutants one by one. And that is not realistic because we are exposed to various combinations of chemicals. So yes each one individually is considered legal, but when they’re grouped together, it really shows how the combined effects of multiple pollutants can potentially hurt our health.
Should people switch to bottled water – is that safer?
Switching to bottled water is not really the right answer. Neither is avoiding water. The EWG is recommending that you check your local water report and then buy an appropriate home water filter. This will lessen your exposure to these contaminants. Also as consumers, we need to be open to investing in technologies that can remove these carcinogenic substances, which likely means we need to be willing to pay more for our water.
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Data pulled from WXYZ