The number of ‘new’ contaminants in our drinking water is rising. The EPA identified over 600, with safety research on them nowhere to be seen.
Here’s a sample: a couple of the newer nasties.
Dioxane, called a “likely human carcinogen,” found in 80 water systems across New Jersey.
Haloacetic acids in Concord, North Carolina affecting the drinking water of 35,000 people.
These are just a small example of a far larger number of cancer-causing agents peaking to levels either against the law or above recommended guidelines.
Obviously, most carcinogens find their way into tap water. Which hasn’t been seen as a problem unless levels are above the thresholds set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Then we are told they pose no risk.
But do they? Do low level long term administration of a toxin cause a cumulative effect?
Mr Trump found himself in hot (tap) drinking water.
President Trump came under attack for many reasons.
Environmental concern wasn’t let us admit, his pressing issue. So when new ‘forever’ toxins called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), found in industrial products and many household products like non-stick (Teflon) pans, polishes, waxes, and paints was also found in our tap water.. well, let’s just say nothing was really done at the highest level..
We now know that just one form of PFASs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), increases the incidence of liver cancer, pancreatic, and testicular tumours in rodents.
So when scientists with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, detected this group of chemicals in tap water at three times the safe limit at a Trump golf course in Bedminister, New Jersey, local folks were, to put it politely, not happy.
EWG’s president Ken Cook torched the club’s administration.
“I suppose one would hope after they’ve spent more than a quarter of million just to get in the door, President Trump could at least give his members filtered drinking water free of cancer-causing chemicals,” he said.
But.. the Trump golf course is just getting its water from a municipal water system, right? Why not go to the source? Or the regulators who claim to protect us?
Here’s why. Even though New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection reported 517 water systems in the state being contaminated by these chemicals, there are no upper safety limits on these toxins, even though the EPA has set public health guidelines.
Most Military Bases Have Contaminated Drinking Water
At least the Department of Defense, is concerned about these contaminants.
Water at some 126 military bases contains potentially harmful levels of PFOA plus a second toxin called perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) – also been linked to cancer in animal studies.
When the dept. tested on 2,668 groundwater wells both on and in the surrounding off-base community it found 61 percent showed toxin levels above the EPA’s recommended levels.
But wait, there’s more. We haven’t mentioned the wide spectrum of industrial and agricultural chemicals that are infrequently monitored -if at all.
The EPA is normally overzealous, so their neglect in this matter is worrying. One answer may be the stripping of EPA funding under Mr Trump. Whatever the reason, we still have a problem that’s not going away.
One has to wonder if the EPA is frightened to really open up the can of worms that represents the range of industry-created toxins threatening our tap water – in the tens of thousands.. Perhaps they have already realised that the scale of the endeavor to minimize their levels would be simply impractical.
What have they done? They’ve given us a ‘Top 90’ list for those they consider to have the highest risk of becoming cancer time bombs. A third of these are specified as potential cancer risk agents
In the last year the EWG focused on 22 of these carcinogenic contaminants: ones scientists regularly monitor and report to state and national drinking water authorities. So for these at least, we have data.
The Price of These Chemical Cocktails in our Drinking Water = 100,000 cancers
In their review, published in the journal Helyiyon, EWGexamined water quality in 48,363 community systems across the U.S. -serving 279 million people – almost every American. They did not include 14 percent of the population. These folk rely on private wells.
Knowing it would be impossible technically and economically to ascertain the cancer risk for each chemical, they attempted to arrive at a cumulative risk for these chemicals combined.
An analysis like this has been done for drinking supply across the whole of the U.S.
The EWG found the vast majority of systems complied with national drinking water standards. Even so, the 22 carcinogens, when considered together as one cancer risk, would lead to an estimated 105,887 cancer cases over the span of a lifetime, or about 70 years.
That’s four lifetime cancer cases per 10,000 people.
Is this a high risk? No.. unless you are one of the four!
Arsenic: Top of the pops as a serial offender.
87 percent of cancers were attributable to arsenic and to byproducts of common disinfectants used to treat water.
So here’s a quick list you might like to use when talking to your local water supplier.
Arsenic — Long-term exposure in drinking water may cause skin, bladder, kidney and lung cancer.
Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)- Disinfectants, mainly chlorine, are required to treat municipal drinking water systems. This accounts for 71 percent of the USA population. DBPs form when chlorine reacts with natural organics in our water.
The EWG analyzed seven DBPs, only four of which are the common trihalomethanes. Long term exposure to these in drinking water is linked to rectal and bladder cancer
OK. That’s 87% of people drinking water. What about the rest?
Produced by industrial processes, as distinct from trivalent chromium, which many of us take as a supplement. It’s an essential nutrient.
Erin B; Our Drinking Water heroine.
The movie Erin Brockovich, the story of a legal clerk who helped expose a high number of cancer cases in the California town of Hinkley where water was polluted with hexavelent chromium, brought world attention to this toxin.
It causes lung cancer in humans when inhaled. If ingested, as in drinking water, it causes oral cancers and tumors in the small intestines of rodents.
Radium, uranium, strontium 90 and tritium. Usually, radioactive elements in our water come from natural sources. However, increased exposure can come from nuclear power plants, mining operations, or research facilities
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Found in the water supply from a wide range of commercial and industrial sources. The VOC — benzene — is known to cause leukemia and other blood cancers.
So.. What’s the Risk of drinking water from your tap?
The EWG claims its results veer on the conservative and that the overall risk may be much greater than suggested in their report.
The Basic Problem: If It Ain’t Illegal… Do Nothing.
The law does not require monitoring of many carcinogens that end up in the water.
In the rare cases where monitoring is required, 33% of community water systems did not fully comply with regulations in 2017.
Information about toxin exposure was just not collected – or not reported.
But wait, there’s more.
Contaminants that are not even carcinogenic may also increase the risk of cancer – when combined.
Research conducted by well over a hundred international scientists working in the fields of cancer and environmental health reported this findings in 2015.
Here’s what they said:
“Our current understanding of the biology of cancer suggests that the cumulative effects of (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways that are relevant to cancer, and on a variety of cancer-relevant systems, organs, tissues and cells could conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies that will be overlooked using current risk assessment methods.”
Stand back, Cap’n. She’s about to blow! (From bad to worse).
Further concerns arose when about a quarter of utility companies replaced chlorine with chloramine, a derivative of ammonia. Why? It’s cheaper and it generates fewer trihalomethanes.
That’s good, right? Wrong.
Dr. Marc Edwards, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, was named among the most influential people in the world by Fortune, Time, and Politico for his work on water quality issues.
According to Dr Edwards,”Many emerging, unregulated DBPs are much more toxic.”
Why? Because among other troubling compounds, they form nitrosamines in our drinking water.
Professor of Environmental Engineering at University of California, David Sedlak, Berkeley, a specialist on chemical contaminants in water, tells us why this is so bad.
Nitrosamines, he said, are the compounds people warned you about when they told you you shouldn’t be eating those nitrite-cured hot dogs.
“They’re about a thousand times more carcinogenic than the disinfection byproducts that we’d been worried about with regular old chlorine.”
The True Cost of Water Health and Drinking water
Dr. Sedlak talked about the problem. When setting regulations, authorities must try to balance risk to health with cost of implementation of new water cleaning systems.. which we ultimately pay for. He saidpeople may be willing to pay more if they were aware of the health impacts.
How Risky? Really?
Craig Mains, an engineering scientist with the National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University:
“A hard question. We are talking about an individual’s risk of cancer [being] increased a small amount over their lifetime.
We also have to keep in mind that ingestion of carcinogens through drinking water is only one route. People are also exposed to carcinogens in food and by inhalation.
Even if all federal standards are met, we still have no guarantee that carcinogens are not in our drinking water,. And that’s only carcinogens. We haven’t discussed the huge number of other non-carcinogenic contaminants ,
The True Cost of Drinking Water.. again.
How do you ‘cost’ health? Is it the value of hope that we won’t get sick? Or is it the value of the investment we are willing to make to prevent getting sick? Thjis is the essence of our dilemma. We don’t actually know for certain that we will be one of the statistics so we (often as not) choose to do what the EPA did: ignore the problem and drink tap water.. or choose not to drink tap water, preferring the vast array of artificial drinks peddled to us every day at every occasion.
Drinking pure water seems a form of luxury; something you do when you can afford it.. And.. it is easier to put the problem of microdosed toxins in every glass away into the ‘tomorrow’s problem’ basket.
But when you are shown what is in your water.. and you don’t act on it.. what is your responsibility to your family, to those who depend upon you to guide them to a healthy life?
We can avoid all these toxic substances – and yet the story we get from the same authorities that add them.. especially when you consider that the worst of the pollutants are the germ-killers that they add to our water.
Yes, these toxins – like chlorine, chloramines and fluoride are necessary – but they aren’t good for you.
What about Bottled Water?
Bottled water is expensive. It can also be contaminated, but for millions of us we’ve been sold on it as the only practical choice. Of course we need to ignore that fact that there is a mass of old plastic bottles larger than France floating in the Atlantic!
What many people don’t understand is that the toxins intentionally added to our water supply to make it safe are slow poisons. But they neglect to connect the obvious dots.. that yes, we can use their germ killing powers but we don’t have to have them in the water we drink! A
The Big Picture on Drinking Water
We’ve talked about water and the possibility of cancer. But we haven’t linked this risk with the myriad other carcinogen-carrying agents we are also exposed to on a daily basis. It’s not smart to isolate water as the only problem. This is a problem of a cumulative nature. it’s ALl the risks, not just one risk that tips the scales. That’s why I am always looking at food labels, at what things are made of, at how and where I choose to live my life.
We are trying to look at the total picture; at our net toxic load.
A recent fact that we are now ingesting the equivalent of a credit card of plastic microparticles every week is, to me, frightening. It’s just another reminder, albeit a big one, that it’s our total toxic load that only matters, which translates into taking action on every source of toxins we discover.
Anything that I can do to reduce my body’s exposure to toxins, and to help my body safely detoxify, retaining my body’s ability to rid myself of disease-causing chemicals.. that’s how I live my life. And yes, I do have a water filter that removes a vast number of that vast list of very nasty compounds.
For more information on how to choose a good water filtration system, Google “Alkaway”.