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The Dangers of Tap Water and How To Protect Yourself

We all use tap water everyday—for bathing, cooking, cleaning and in some areas, even drinking. But for one Cleveland family, turning on their faucet took them for a shocking, and scary surprise.

According to a TODAY News report, when Jason and Debby Kline went to use the tap water in their home, they were shocked at the appearance of flames igniting from their faucet. The reason behind this crazy, but surprisingly frequent occurrence is the presence of a colorless and odorless gas, methane, that seeped into their pipes. 

The couple and their children live nearby an area where a natural gas company is drilling, which is being investigated as the cause. When drilling occurs, methane in the ground is disturbed and can often seep into water wells. In turn, the water then makes its way into the pipelines of nearby homes, like the Kline’s. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there is an ongoing debate about natural gas companies and drilling. However, despite debates, there are precautions homeowners who use well water can take to avoid this type of disaster.

 

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View the slideshow above for tips to test your water and stay safe.

The Dangers of Tap Water
With all of the dangers that occur outside of our home, drinking a glass of water from the tap is usually a habitual comfort known for its health and energy boost. But with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating more than 60,000 chemicals used within the United States tap water, there’s cause to think twice before taking a sip. According to a 2009 analysis performed by the New York Times, more than 62 million Americans have been introduced to drinking water below the standards of government health guidelines. These guidelines have been instituted are for the protection against cancer and other serious disease causes. (Studies and E.P.A. summaries can be found in the Resources section of nytimes.com/water.)

The states most at health risk for these contaminants have been California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, while traces of arsenic and uranium concentrations have appeared in New Jersey communities and the Southwest, respectively. However, even at those risky levels, they were still within the limitations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. These areas see the most contamination due to agriculture, industry, and pollution.

How To Stay Safe
So how do you protect yourself and your family? Don’t let this information frighten you. Thankfully, there are great resources to make sure you’re serving your family the best quality water you can. Because children, infants, and fetuses are so vulnerable to lead exposure in water, paint, dust, air, and food, the EPA has made it clear that there’s no tolerance for lead in drinking water. Rest assured, this damaging contaminant is extremely regulated to keep you and your loved ones safe. Though there are thousands of chemicals in public drinking water, they are all strictly monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency to meet high standards. The contaminants may still be present, but they are not any level of concern for serious health risk and if they do occur, you will be immediately prompted by your water supplier.

While the concentrations of chemicals in tap water may often sound alarming, the Natural Resources Defense Council generally concludes that the drinking water of almost all cities is safe. However, it is important to take special precaution if you have special health conditions, a weakened immune system, young children, are elderly or are pregnant. Though concentrations may seem high, the rate at which people ingest the water is generally not large enough to pose a real threat. If you feel at risk, you can obtain a copy of your city’s annual water quality report and contact your physician for consultation.

Get Informed
Still a little concerned? Look up your region on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development E-Maps Site and search the Environmental Defense Fund’s website, Chemical Scorecard, by zip code for information on toxic releases in your state. Send a sample of your tap water to an EPA-certified laboratory like National Testing Lab. Do your research on the pipes leading to your home and your home plumbing in order to best inform yourself. The best way to protect yourself is to educate yourself on your public water supply for your health and the health of those you care about. After all, water is the best source of nutrition so make sure you’re getting the good stuff!

 

Photo Credit: Alamy

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