US drinking water widely contaminated

A three-year study by the Environmental Working Group of drinking water quality in 45 states, which included the analysis of 20 million tap water quality tests, found more than 200 unregulated chemicals in the tap water including industrial solvents, weed killers, refrigerants and the rocket fuel component perchlorate, in water supplied to the public between 2004 and 2009.

Although the utility companies do filter drinking water (spend more than $50 billion a year on treatment) many of the chemicals may not be covered under their safety standards so that it is not uncommon for people to drink tap water laced with 20 or 30 chemical contaminants. The water may be legal, but it raises serious health concerns.

The pollutants derive from a wealth of sources, including agriculture, factory discharges, consumer products, urban runoff and wastewater treatment plants.

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First Published in December 2009

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