The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating U.S. drinking water. The law was amended in both 1986 and 1996 to require many actions to protect our water supplies. But has the E.P.A. been doing its job?
Not according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) which published a scathing report last month that accuses the E.P.A. of not meeting the requirements of the 1996 amendment to prioritize and assess at least 5 contaminants each year that pose the greatest threat to the nation's drinking water supply. E.P.A. officials told the GAO that they have not used a system of ranking contaminants and prioritizing them based on public health concerns. Instead, 16 of 20 contaminants that were assessed were contaminants that posed little threat to public health by virtue of the fact that the contaminants chosen had limited or no occurrences in public drinking supplies. The decision not to regulate them was an easy one, but what about the contaminants that do pose significant risk to human health?
An E.P.A. official described the method they used to determine which contaminants to prioritize was to address "the low-hanging fruit", or the easiest ones based on data availability, not on health concerns. For this reason, chemicals like perchlorate, which has been identified as a concern in connection with increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment in fetuses of pregnant women with iodine deficiency and to developmental delays and decreased learning capability in infants and children, has yet to be ranked as a priority. Not only that, but the E.P.A. decided to make an exception to their normal procedure of utilizing a working group of agency professionals with varying expertise to assess perchlorate and instead formed a more exclusive group of high level officials, most notably excluding any representative from the Office of Children's Health Protection.
Another contaminant that is of much concern is hexavalent chromium, which is produced from metal plating, the production of dyes, and in the production of steel. According to an article by Jeff McMahon on Forbes web page, tests of Chicago's drinking water last week found levels of this contaminant at more than 10 times the health standard adopted by the state of California. If I were living in Chicago, I'd be very concerned about this.
From the report by the GAO, it's plain to see that the E.P.A. needs to prioritize the contaminants of concern and address those that threaten our health the most. It's obvious that we shouldn't rely on the government to protect us. Fortunately, there are many good water treatment products that are tested and effective in removing contaminants from our tap water.
Check out my store at Highwater Filters
for a selection of water filters, purifiers and distillers to give you the added assurance we all want that our water is safe to drink.
For more information on the GAO report go here.
For a list of NSF certified water treatment products and their reduction claims, go here.
Info on the Safe Drinking Water Act go here.
Forbes article: How to Protect Yourself From America's 'New' Drinking Water Toxins.
Thanks for reading!