Despite the modern standards of safety and cleanliness that we enjoy in many aspects of the world today, there is no guarantee the water from your tap is safe or healthy. Drinking tap water can expose you to harmful contaminants like perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), lead, bacteria, viruses and more.
The only way you can be sure that the water you are drinking is clean, healthy and safe, is by purifying the water that comes from your tap. A water filter system to purify water in your whole house or at the point of use—like under a sink—can go a long way to avoiding the health hazards of contaminated drinking water.
Tap Water Horror Stories
The water that comes from your tap might taste fine and seem healthy — but does that mean it's safe? Plenty of communities across the United States are grappling with issues affecting the municipal drinking water, including dangerous levels of substances like radium lead.
There is the infamous case of Flint, Michigan, where residents found they had been exposed to high levels of lead for years due to drinking tap water. The state of Michigan may already be facing high levels of PFCs — more than 30 sites have confirmed contamination.
A different kind of water contamination affected residents in Missouri. A 2017 report by a local news station revealed that the city of Leadwood had no record of cleaning its water tower in 17 years after residents noticed brown water coming out of their taps. Reporters discovered the state of Missouri has no statute on the books requiring cleaning of city water supply storage tanks. Most other states don’t either.
In another unusual case, the EPA documented seven deaths caused by dirty water in another Missouri city’s water tank in Gideon, Missouri in 1995 after “pigeon droppings on the tank roof were carried into the tank by wind and rain through a gap in the roof hatch.” Some 44 percent of the city’s residents were affected by diarrhea.
Why PFCs Are a Major Problem
If it’s not 17 years’ worth of sediment or lead in your city water supply, or pigeon droppings and deadly viruses, it can be toxic chemicals used by American industries. These insidious byproducts can contaminate the local water table and find their way into the water that comes from your tap.
PFCs are manufactured chemical compounds that make products we use every day more resistant to stains, grease and water, according to the National Institute for Health.
PFCs break down very slowly in the environment, and the half life of PFCs in the human body—the time it takes for 50 percent of the chemicals to be eliminated—is several years. During that time these highly fluorinated toxic chemicals can wreak havoc on your health. They have been linked to increased risk for cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity, and other health problems.
In 2017 the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University in Boston published research detailing the extent of PFC contamination in tap water supplies, finding that the chemical affects the drinking water of 15 million Americans in 27 states from more than four dozen industrial and military sources from Maine to California.
Just as there are no requirements in most states for city water supplies to inspect and clean their water storage tanks at regular intervals, there are no federal regulations or requirements for cities to maintain water supplies with PFCs below a certain level. Instead there is only a non-binding EPA health advisory level, and many experts think it’s still too high.
Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Drinking tap water without any kind of filtration clearly poses some risks. Many potentially harmful substances can be easily removed from the water in your home with a water filter system. Depending on the composition of your water and your particular health concerns, you may want to consider different water filter types. A seasoned indoor environmental systems professional can help find the perfect water filtration system will help deliver just what you came to your tap for — pure, clean, refreshing water.