With headlines about Flint’s ongoing water crisis still swirling around, have you ever wonder what’s in the drinking water coming out of your tap? Now you can simply type in your zip code and find out.
This week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a searchable online Tap Water Database, allowing anyone in the US to see the quality of their drinking water by entering their zip code or local utility’s name online. The data is based on 50,000 public water systems across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The search will a reveal a list of the contaminants found in the water, a short breakdown about the health risks associated with the contaminant, and how these concentrations compare to the rest of the US and state. It will also inform you about the potential source of the pollution, such as industry, agriculture, treatment byproducts, run-off, or simply naturally occurring.
“Americans deserve the fullest picture possible of what’s in their tap water,” EWG President Ken Cook said in a statement. “But they won’t get that information from the government or, in many cases, from their utilities. The only place they’ll find that is EWG’s drinking water report.”
Although the EWG says that the vast majority of utilities are totally in line with federal limits, tap water across the country have significant amounts of industrial and agricultural contaminants that have been linked to cancer, brain, and nervous system damage, or developmental defects. Among the contaminants found in this new EWG database include heavy metals like lead and arsenic, Uranium, chloroform, nitrates from agricultural fertilizers, and the cancer-causing agent chromium-6, made famous by the film Erin Brockovich.
“Just because your tap water gets a passing grade from the government doesn’t always mean it’s safe,” added Cook. “It’s time to stop basing environmental regulations on political or economic compromises, and instead listen to what scientists say about the long-term effects of toxic chemicals and empower Americans to protect themselves from pollutants even as they demand the protective action they deserve from government.”
Many people have heard of the high levels of lead found in Flint, Michigan’s water supply, but the problem is surprisingly far reaching across the states. In December 2016, Reuters revealed that over 3,000 areas in the US had poisoning rates far higher than in Michigan city. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said that “at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.”