Quality & Contaminants
Major Water Quality Concerns in the United States:
Drinking water is generally lead-free when it leaves the treatment plant but often picks up dissolved lead from pipes, solder, faucets and fixtures on its way to a home. The EPA is working to tighten its regulations to address Americans' exposure to lead in their drinking water.
Read more about Lead in Drinking Water
An Associated Press study found pharmaceuticals (including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, sex hormones) have been detected in the drinking water of at least 41 million people in 24 major American metropolitan areas. At this time, the EPA does not know whether there is a human health risk associated with these reported levels and has commissioned a panel to investigate.
EPA Report and Associated Press Report
Water systems in the United States rely on pipes that are on average 100 years old, with some Eastern cities having pipes that are 200 years old. With the aging of these systems, the EPA has estimated that country's water infrastructure will require $334.8 billion dollars over the next 20 years to covers costs for repairs and replacement of transmission pipes, storage and treatment equipment.
Read the EPA Needs Survey Fact Sheet or the EPA Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis
Drinking water at thousands of schools across the country, in small towns and inner cities, in all 50 states, has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and other toxins, according to an Associated Press report.
Read the AP Report
Agricultural runoff is the single biggest source of water pollution in the nation, affecting rivers and streams across the country according to the EPA. This poses a risk to many communities who rely on well water and are located near large agricultural operations.
Learn more in the New York Times Report
Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless element that is found naturally in the earth's crust. It enters drinking water supplies from these deposits in the earth or from agricultural or industrial practices. The EPA recently tightened its regulation for arsenic in drinking water effective in 2006. This regulation sought to provide additional protection to an additional 13 million Americans.
Read the EPA Fact Sheet on Arsenic
Atrazine is a commonly used weed killer that has been detected in ground water in numerous states. Health affects related to human exposure to atrazine include heart, lung and kidney problems as well as muscle spasms and damage to renal glands. The EPA is reviewing its National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for atrazine to determine if a revision is appropriate.
Read more from the EPA