Tap water contaminants cause thousands of cancer cases

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tap-water-causes-cancer(NaturalHealth365)  Uranium.  Radium.  Arsenic.  These chemicals are known to cause cancer.  However, these are not the only contaminants in tap water across the United States.  A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals that approximately 45% of the country’s tap water contains per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).  While there are over 12,000 variants of PFAS, the study specifically examined 32 types, underscoring the limitations of current detection methods.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced new limits on PFAS, targeting six prominent variants: PFOA, PFOS, GenX, PFBS, PFNA, and PFHxS.  Referred to as maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), these standards dictate the highest permissible concentration of contaminants in drinking water, factoring in health implications, treatment costs, and practicality.

While this is a step in the right direction, the fact remains: the consumption of contaminated tap water is tied to a stunning number of cancer cases throughout a typical generation.

Drinking contaminated tap water puts your health at risk and increases the chances of disease

In a study, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) team evaluated tap water samples from over 2,700 public water systems in California, which provide at least 98% of the West Coast state’s drinking water.  These samples contained harmful, carcinogenic chemicals, such as chloroform, tetrachloroethylene, and hexavalent chromium (in addition to many others).

The study’s authors were then able to determine the risk of getting cancer as a result of drinking contaminated water by taking yearly average contamination levels between the years of 2011 and 2015.

As the authors state: “This results in an estimated number of 221 annual cancer cases due to drinking water contaminants in California,” or about 15,500 cases of cancer over the course of about 70 years (the average lifetime).

You’re reading this right: 15,500+ cases of cancer in California are directly caused by drinking contaminated tap water.  It’s alarming!

The EWG also states that 495 public water systems in California are considered “high risk.”  What they mean by this is that the tap water from these areas will cause cancer in about 1 in 1,000 people over the course of a lifetime.

They also state that 43 public water systems have a relative cancer risk as high as 4 in 1,000.  The EWG does not specify which communities are at the highest risk; however, they do indicate that they include “communities of less than a thousand residents and one water system serving a population of 19,000.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that as many as 40% of Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.  Based on the recent revelations from the EWG, we can’t help but surmise that the chemicals in our public tap water have something to do with this sobering statistic.

Thirsty?  Here’s how to drink water safely

The EWG identifies this contaminated drinking water issue as a “significant environmental justice problem.”  We couldn’t agree more.  As we can only hope that our public health officials will improve the infrastructure and resources necessary to resolve the root of this public health concern, there are at least some things we can do to protect the health of ourselves and our families:

  • Use a high-quality water purification system for your home water (those installed directly into the sink are generally more effective than filters on faucets or in pitchers)
  • Or, at the very least, be sure to use a water purification system on the counter for all your drinking and cooking water.

Whichever system you use, it’s important to maintain and clean your filters regularly.

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