The Health Effects of Drinking Water Contamination
U.S. drinking water contains more than 2,100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer. --Ralph Nader Research Institute
The following report summarizes factual information on tap
water quality and the effects of tap water on human health. For
information on bottled water quality and the misconceptions surrounding
it, visit our bottled water page.
Our hope is that you will take a moment to review this valuable information and consider the facts. We are not trying to scare you, we are only trying to inform you of the threats to our environment and health that became the driving force behind the formation of our company. Increased awareness of this serious issue can only benefit us all.
We also hope that you will review the product information about 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 the product catalog for great savings on Aquasana purchases. Once you have all the facts, the decision is easy. Even if you don't buy one of our water filters, please buy a water filter. There is no such thing as a bad water filter. Thank you for coming this far!
The causes of tap water contamination are many, 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 led to added convenience and productivity in our lives, these come at a tremendous price... drastic increases in degenerative disease.
In the early 1900s, before the prevalence of chlorine, pesticides, herbicides and the tens of thousands of other chemicals that we are exposed to every day, the average American had a 1 in 50 chance of getting cancer, today one out of three people can expect to get cancer in their lifetime, one out of two 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 a review of over 10,000 documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, confirmed that "U.S. drinking water contains more than 2,100 toxic chemicals that can cause cancer."
We've learned that any chemical we use in our society will eventually wind up in our water supply. There is no "new" water! Our planet reuses the same water over and over. And as our use of SOCs increases, so does 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 like lawn chemicals, gasoline, dry-cleaning solvents and cleaning products.
Once we realize that everything that goes down the drain, on our lawns, on our agricultural fields or into the environment by any means eventually winds up in the water we drink, we begin to see just how vulnerable our water supply really is.
Our municipal water treatment facilities do not remove SOCs and typically consist only of sand bed filtration and disinfection, 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 last century: they filter out the visible particles and add bleach!
"Drinking water plants are old and out of date, and water supplies are increasingly threatened by and contaminated by chemicals and microorganisms.," Natural Resources Defense Council.
"The way we guarantee safe drinking water is broken and needs to be fixed," Carol Browner, U.S. EPA chief.
One of America's leading authorities on water contamination, Dr. David Ozonoff of the Boston University School of Public Health states, "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 a probable cause have now been linked to toxins in our drinking water.
"While levels of these carcinogens (SOCs) in drinking water are low, it is precisely these low levels that carcinogenists believe to be responsible for the majority of human cancers in the U.S.,"
U.S. Council on Environmental Quality.
The use of pesticides and herbicides has become so excessive that they are now commonly found in household tap water and bottled water with alarming frequency.
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" went on to say that "millions of Americans are routinely exposed to one or more pesticides in a single glass of tap water."
These first ever tap water testings 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 in the tap water of five 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 four to nine chemicals in every bottle!"
The tragic health effects of consuming these highly toxic chemicals are magnified many times over for small children because their systems are more sensitive and still developing. Small children also consume a much larger volume of fluids per pound of body weight and therefore get a bigger dose, yet 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, stating "children are not little adults" and 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. The regulations are set based on what is assumed safe for a 175-pound adult drinking water with only one chemical present and 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 that "when two or more of these contaminants combine in our water, the potency may be increased as much as 1,000 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 the subject, "The one thing we know for sure about toxins in our drinking water is that the more we look, the more we find."