gallery WATER CONTAMINANTS

While Pruitt and the EPA may be barring certain news organizations from attending the Summit on Water Contaminants, here is the info you need directly from the EPA and the US Geological Survey. Use this to protect your health and your family. (Excerpted from the soon to be published, Helpful Handbook.)

Filtering home tap or well water can decrease exposure to numerous known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.” The President’s Cancer Panel [i]

 

Flying above Lake Michigan

DRINKING WATER CONTAMINANTS http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants

Contaminant Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Bromate Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Chlorite Anemia; infants & young children: nervous system effects Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Haloacetic acids (HAA5) Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection

Disinfectants

Contaminant Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Chloramines (as Cl2) Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort, anemia Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine (as Cl2) Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine dioxide (as ClO2) Anemia; infants & young children:nervous system effects Water additive used to control microbes

DRINKING WATER CONTAMINANTS

The below charts are courtesy of the EPA; www.epa.gov/safewater/hfacts.html#Volatile

Disinfection Byproducts

Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potent ial Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Bromate Zero 0.010 Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Chlorite 0.8 1.0 Anemia; infants & young children: nervous system effects Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Haloacetic acids (HAA5) n/a6 0.060 Increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) None7
———-
n/a6
0.10
———-0.080
Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Byproduct of drinking water disinfection

 

Disinfectants

Contaminant MRDLG1
(mg/L)
2
MRDL1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Chloramines (as Cl2) MRDLG=41 MRDL=4.01 Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort, anemia, DNA damage Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine (as Cl2) MRDLG=41 MRDL=4.01 Eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort Water additive used to control microbes
Chlorine dioxide (as ClO2) MRDLG=0.81 MRDL=0.81 Anemia; infants & young children: nervous system effects Water additive used to control microbes

 

Inorganic Chemicals

Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Antimony 0.006 0.006 Increase in blood cholesterol; decrease in blood sugar Discharge from petroleum refineries; fire retardants; ceramics; electronics; solder
Arsenic 07 0.010
as of 01/23/06
Skin damage or problems with circulatory systems, and may have increased risk of getting cancer Erosion of natural deposits; runoff from orchards, runoff from glass & electronics production wastes
Asbestos
(fiber >10 micrometers)
7 million fibers 7 MFL Increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps Decay of asbestos cement in water mains; erosion of natural deposits
Barium 2 2 Increase in blood pressure Discharge of drilling wastes; discharge from metal refineries; erosion of natural deposits
Beryllium 0.004 0.004 Intestinal lesions Discharge from metal refineries and coal-burning factories; discharge from electrical, aerospace, and defense industries
Cadmium 0.005 0.005 Kidney damage Corrosion of galvanized pipes; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from metal refineries; runoff from waste batteries and paints
Chromium (total) 0.1 0.1 Allergic dermatitis Discharge from steel and pulp mills; erosion of natural deposits
Copper 1.3 TT8;
Action Level=1.3
Short term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress

Long term exposure: Liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson’s Disease should consult their doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits
Cyanide (as free cyanide) 0.2 0.2 Nerve damage or thyroid problems Discharge from steel/metal factories; discharge from plastic and fertilizer factories
Fluoride 4.0 4.0 Bone disease (pain and tenderness of the bones); Children may get mottled teeth Water additive which promotes strong teeth; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories
Lead Zero TT8;
Action Level=0.015
Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development; deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults: Kidney problems; high blood pressure Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits
Mercury (inorganic) 0.002 0.002 Kidney damage Erosion of natural deposits; discharge from refineries and factories; runoff from landfills and croplands
Nitrate (measured as Nitrogen) 10 10 Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits
Nitrite (measured as Nitrogen) 1 1 Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrite in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome. Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits
Selenium 0.05 0.05 Hair or fingernail loss; numbness in fingers or toes; circulatory problems Discharge from petroleum refineries; erosion of natural deposits; discharge from mines
Thallium 0.0005 0.002 Hair loss; changes in blood; kidney, intestine, or liver problems Leaching from ore-processing sites; discharge from electronics, glass, and drug factories

Volatile Organic Chemicals (including Pesticides)

Contaminant MCLG1
(mg/L)
2
MCL or TT1
(mg/L)
2
Potential Health Effects from Ingestion of Water Sources of Contaminant in Drinking Water
Acrylamide Zero TT9 Nervous system or blood problems; increased risk of cancer Added to water during sewage/wastewater treatment
Alachlor Zero 0.002 Eye, liver, kidney or spleen problems; anemia; increased risk of cancer Runoff from herbicide used on row crops
Atrazine 0.003 0.003 Cardiovascular system or reproductive problems Runoff from herbicide used on row crops

 

 

Benzene Zero 0.005 Anemia; decrease in blood platelets; increased risk of cancer Discharge from factories; leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills
Benzo(a)pyrene (PAHs) Zero 0.0002 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Leaching from linings of water storage tanks and distribution lines
Carbofuran 0.04 0.04 Problems with blood, nervous system, or reproductive system Leaching of soil fumigant used on rice and alfalfa
Carbon
tetrachloride
Zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from chemical plants and other industrial activities
Chlordane Zero 0.002 Liver or nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer Residue of banned termiticide
Chlorobenzene 0.1 0.1 Liver or kidney problems Discharge from chemical and agricultural chemical factories
2,4-D 0.07 0.07 Kidney, liver, or adrenal gland problems Runoff from herbicide used on row crops
Dalapon 0.2 0.2 Minor kidney changes Runoff from herbicide used on rights of way
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) Zero 0.0002 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Runoff/leaching from soil fumigant used on soybeans, cotton, pineapples, and orchards
o-Dichlorobenzene 0.6 0.6 Liver, kidney, or circulatory system problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories
p-Dichlorobenzene 0.075 0.075 Anemia; liver, kidney or spleen damage; changes in blood Discharge from industrial chemical factories
1,2-Dichloroethane Zero 0.005 Increased risk of cancer Discharge from industrial chemical factories
1,1-Dichloroethylene 0.007 0.007 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories
cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.07 0.07 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories
trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene 0.1 0.1 Liver problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Dichloromethane Zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from drug and chemical factories
1,2-Dichloropropane Zero 0.005 Increased risk of cancer Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate 0.4 0.4 Weight loss, liver problems, or possible reproductive difficulties. Discharge from chemical factories
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate Zero 0.006 Reproductive difficulties; liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from rubber and chemical factories
Dinoseb 0.007 0.007 Reproductive difficulties Runoff from herbicide used on soybeans and vegetables
Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) Zero 0.00000003 Reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Emissions from waste incineration and combustion; discharge from chemical factories
Diquat 0.02 0.02 Cataracts Runoff from herbicide use
Endothall 0.1 0.1 Stomach and intestinal problems Runoff from herbicide use
Endrin 0.002 0.002 Liver problems Residue of banned insecticide
Epichlorohydrin Zero TT9 Increased cancer risk, and over a long period of time, stomach problems Discharge from chemical factories; impure water treatment chemicals
Ethylbenzene 0.7 0.7 Liver or kidneys problems Discharge from petroleum refineries
Ethylene dibromide Zero 0.00005 Problems with liver, stomach, reproductive system, or kidneys; increased risk of cancer Discharge from petroleum refineries
Glyphosate 0.7 0.7 Kidney problems; reproductive difficulties Runoff from herbicide use
Heptachlor Zero 0.0004 Liver damage; increased risk of cancer Residue of banned termiticide
Heptachlor epoxide Zero 0.0002 Liver damage; increased risk of cancer Breakdown of heptachlor
Hexachlorobenzene Zero 0.001 Liver or kidney problems; reproductive difficulties; increased risk of cancer Discharge from metal refineries and agricultural chemical factories
Hexachlorocyclopentadiene 0.05 0.05 Kidney or stomach problems Discharge from chemical factories
Lindane 0.0002 0.0002 Liver or kidney problems Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cattle, lumber, gardens
Methoxychlor 0.04 0.04 Reproductive difficulties Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, livestock
Oxamyl (Vydate) 0.2 0.2 Slight nervous system effects Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on apples, potatoes, and tomatoes
 

Polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs)

 

Zero

 

0.0005

 

Skin changes; thymus gland problems; immune deficiencies; reproductive or nervous system difficulties; cancer risk

 

Runoff from landfills; discharge of waste chemicals

Pentachlorophenol Zero 0.001 Liver or kidney problems; increased cancer risk Discharge from wood preserving factories
Picloram 0.5 0.5 Liver problems Herbicide runoff
Simazine 0.004 0.004 Problems with blood Herbicide runoff
Styrene 0.1 0.1 Liver, kidney, or circulatory system problems Discharge from rubber and plastic factories; leaching from landfills
Tetrachloroethylene Zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from factories and dry cleaners
Toluene 1 1 Nervous system, kidney, or liver problems Discharge from petroleum factories
Toxaphene Zero 0.003 Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems; increased risk of cancer Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cotton and cattle
2,4,5-TP (Silvex) 0.05 0.05 Liver problems Residue of banned herbicide
1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene 0.07 0.07 Changes in adrenal glands Discharge from textile finishing factories
1,1,1-Trichloroethane 0.20 0.2 Liver, nervous system, or circulatory problems Discharge from metal degreasing sites and other factories
1,1,2-Trichloroethane 0.003 0.005 Liver, kidney, or immune system problems Discharge from industrial chemical factories
Trichloroethylene Zero 0.005 Liver problems; increased risk of cancer Discharge from metal degreasing sites and other factories
Vinyl chloride Zero 0.002 Increased risk of cancer Leaching from PVC pipes; discharge from plastic factories
Xylenes (total) 10 10 Nervous system damage Discharge from petroleum factories; discharge from chemical factories

GROUND WATER AT RISK

While many of our water sources can be seen above ground, many of us obtain our drinking water from the vast water located beneath the surface of the earth. Ground water is comprised of water that makes its way through the soil and cracks in the earth to the bedrock below. Underground aquifers supply water for residential wells, industries and municipalities. When more water is drawn and pumped out than what is replaced by rain and by people, the water levels fall. In some places, water levels have shrunk considerably and the risk of water shortages abound. Through careful, considerate, and mindful use of water we can maintain, or in many cases, work to re-achieve healthy and sustainable levels.

Perhaps the worst of all threats at the moment comes from toxic contaminants associated with fracking. Currently fracking wastewater is not regulated under the Clean Water Act; and shockingly the EPA isn’t allowed to keep a close eye on it to prevent groundwater from being contaminated with it. This is illogical, for our health depends on many things, good water being one of them.

Note, if you have a private well, be sure to have it tested regularly for contaminants. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Populations living in agricultural areas typically have the highest exposures to drinking water contaminated with nitrate, with households using private wells for their drinking water often having exposures several-fold above households using public supplies.” [iv]

 

Contaminants Found in Groundwater

The following list and information, courtesy of the US Geological Service lists both inorganic and organic water contaminants as well as their sources.

Contaminants can be natural or human-induced. Groundwater will normally look clear and clean because the ground naturally filters out particulate matter. But, natural and human-induced chemicals can be found in groundwater. As groundwater flows through the ground, metals such as iron and manganese are dissolved and may later be found in high concentrations in the water. Industrial discharges, urban activities, agriculture, ground-water pumpage, and disposal of waste all can affect ground-water quality. Contaminants can be human-induced, as from leaking fuel tanks or toxic chemical spills. Pesticides and fertilizers applied to lawns and crops can accumulate and migrate to the water table. Leakage from septic tanks and/or waste-disposal sites also can introduce bacteria to the water, and pesticides and fertilizers that seep into farmed soil can eventually end up in water drawn from a well. Or, a well might have been placed in land that was once used for something like a garbage or chemical dumpsite. In any case, if you use your own well to supply drinking water to your home, it is wise to have your well water tested for contaminates.” https://water.usgs.gov/edu/groundwater-contaminants.html

Chemicals and contaminants in groundwater

Inorganic contaminants found in groundwater
Contaminant Sources to groundwater Potential health and other effects
Aluminum Occurs naturally in some rocks and drainage from mines. Can precipitate out of water after treatment, causing increased turbidity or discolored water.
Antimony Enters environment from natural weathering, industrial production, municipal waste disposal, and manufacturing of flame retardants, ceramics, glass, batteries, fireworks, and explosives. Decreases longevity, alters blood levels of glucose and cholesterol in laboratory animals exposed at high levels over their lifetime.
Arsenic Enters environment from natural processes, industrial activities, pesticides, and industrial waste, smelting of copper, lead, and zinc ore. Causes acute and chronic toxicity, liver and kidney damage; decreases blood hemoglobin. A carcinogen.
Barium Occurs naturally in some limestones, sandstones, and soils in the eastern United States. Can cause a variety of cardiac, gastrointestinal, and neuromuscular effects. Associated with hypertension and cardiotoxicity in animals.
Beryllium Occurs naturally in soils, groundwater, and surface water. Often used in electrical industry equipment and components, nuclear power and space industry. Enters the environment from mining operations, processing plants, and improper waste disposal. Found in low concentrations in rocks, coal, and petroleum and enters the ground Causes acute and chronic toxicity; can cause damage to lungs and bones. Possible carcinogen.
Cadmium Found in low concentrations in rocks, coal, and petroleum and enters the groundwater and surface water when dissolved by acidic waters. May enter the environment from industrial discharge, mining waste, metal plating, water pipes, batteries, paints and pigments, plastic stabilizers, and landfill leachate. Replaces zinc biochemically in the body and causes high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, and anemia. Destroys testicular tissue and red blood cells. Toxic to aquatic biota.
Chloride May be associated with the presence of sodium in drinking water when present in high concentrations. Often from saltwater intrusion, mineral dissolution, industrial and domestic waste. Deteriorates plumbing, water heaters, and municipal water-works equipment at high levels.
Above secondary maximum contaminant level, taste becomes noticeable.
Chromium Enters environment from old mining operations runoff and leaching into groundwater, fossil-fuel combustion, cement-plant emissions, mineral leaching, and waste incineration. Used in metal plating and as a cooling-tower water additive. Chromium III is a nutritionally essential element. Chromium VI is much more toxic than Chromium III and causes liver and kidney damage, internal hemorrhaging, respiratory damage, dermatitis, and ulcers on the skin at high concentrations.
Copper Enters environment from metal plating, industrial and domestic waste, mining, and mineral leaching. Can cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver and kidney damage, anemia in high doses. Imparts an adverse taste and significant staining to clothes and fixtures. Essential trace element but toxic to plants and algae at moderatelevels.
Cyanide Often used in electroplating, steel processing, plastics, synthetic fabrics, and fertilizer production; also from improper waste disposal. Poisoning is the result of damage to spleen, brain, and liver.
Dissolved solids Occur naturally but also enters environment from man-made sources such as landfill leachate, feedlots, or sewage. A measure of the dissolved “salts” or minerals in the water. May also include some dissolved organic compounds. May have an influence on the acceptability of water in general. May be indicative of the presence of excess concentrations of specific substances not included in the Safe Water Drinking Act, which would make water objectionable. High concentrations of dissolved solids shorten the life of hot water heaters.
Fluoride Occurs naturally or as an additive to municipal water supplies; widely used in industry. Decreases incidence of tooth decay but high levels can stain or mottle teeth. Causes crippling bone disorder (calcification of the bones and joints) at very high levels.
Hardness Result of metallic ions dissolved in the water; reported as concentration of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is derived from dissolved limestone or discharges from operating or abandoned mines. Decreases the lather formation of soap and increases scale formation in hot-water heaters and low-pressure boilers at high levels.
Iron Occurs naturally as a mineral from sediment and rocks or from mining, industrial waste, and corroding metal. Imparts a bitter astringent taste to water and a brownish color to laundered clothing and plumbing fixtures.
Lead Enters environment from industry, mining, plumbing, gasoline, coal, and as a water additive. Affects red blood cell chemistry; delays normal physical and mental development in babies and young children. Causes slight deficits in attention span, hearing, and learning in children. Can cause slight increase in blood pressure in some adults. Probable carcinogen.
Manganese Occurs naturally as a mineral from sediment and rocks or from mining and industrial waste. Causes aesthetic and economic damage, and imparts brownish stains to laundry. Affects taste of water, and causes dark brown or black stains on plumbing fixtures. Relatively non-toxic to animals but toxic to plants at high levels.
Mercury Occurs as an inorganic salt and as organic mercury compounds. Enters the environment from industrial waste, mining, pesticides, coal, electrical equipment (batteries, lamps, switches), smelting, and fossil-fuel combustion. Causes acute and chronic toxicity. Targets the kidneys and can cause nervous system disorders.
Nickel Occurs naturally in soils, groundwater, and surface water. Often used in electroplating, stainless steel and alloy products, mining, and refining. Damages the heart and liver of laboratory animals exposed to large amounts over their lifetime.
Nitrate (as nitrogen) Occurs naturally in mineral deposits, soils, seawater, freshwater systems, the atmosphere, and biota. More stable form of combined nitrogen in oxygenated water. Found in the highest levels in groundwater under extensively developed areas. Enters the environment from fertilizer, feedlots, and sewage. Toxicity results from the body’s natural breakdown of nitrate to nitrite. Causes “bluebaby disease,” or methemoglobinemia, which threatens oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
Nitrite (combined nitrate/nitrite) Enters environment from fertilizer, sewage, and human or farm-animal waste. Toxicity results from the body’s natural breakdown of nitrate to nitrite. Causes “bluebaby disease,” or methemoglobinemia, which threatens oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
Selenium Enters environment from naturally occurring geologic sources, sulfur, and coal. Causes acute and chronic toxic effects in animals–“blind staggers” in cattle. Nutritionally essential element at low doses but toxic at high doses.
Silver Enters environment from ore mining and processing, product fabrication, and disposal. Often used in photography, electric and electronic equipment, sterling and electroplating, alloy, and solder. Because of great economic value of silver, recovery practices are typically used to minimize loss. Can cause argyria, a blue-gray coloration of the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, and organs in humans and animals with chronic exposure.
Sodium Derived geologically from leaching of surface and underground deposits of salt and decomposition of various minerals. Human activities contribute through de-icing and washing products. Can be a health risk factor for those individuals on a low-sodium diet.
Sulfate Elevated concentrations may result from saltwater intrusion, mineral dissolution, and domestic or industrial waste. Forms hard scales on boilers and heat exchangers; can change the taste of water, and has a laxative effect in high doses.
Thallium Enters environment from soils; used in electronics, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, glass, and alloys. Damages kidneys, liver, brain, and intestines in laboratory animals when given in high doses over their lifetime.
Zinc Found naturally in water, most frequently in areas where it is mined. Enters environment from industrial waste, metal plating, and plumbing, and is a major component of sludge. Aids in the healing of wounds. Causes no ill health effects except in very high doses. Imparts an undesirable taste to water. Toxic to plants at high levels.
Organic contaminants
Contaminants Sources to groundwater Potential health and other effects
Volatile organic compounds (Benzene) Enter environment when used to make plastics, dyes, rubbers, polishes, solvents, crude oil, insecticides, inks, varnishes, paints, disinfectants, gasoline products, pharmaceuticals, preservatives, spot removers, paint removers, degreasers, and many more. Can cause cancer and liver damage, anemia, gastrointestinal disorder, skin irritation, blurred vision, exhaustion, weight loss, damage to the nervous system, and respiratory tract irritation.
Pesticides Enter environment as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, and algicides. Cause poisoning, headaches, dizziness, gastrointestinal disturbance, numbness, weakness, and cancer. Destroys nervous system, thyroid, kidneys, reproductive system, liver
Plasticizers, chlorinated solvents, benzo[a]pyrene, and dioxin Used as sealants, linings, solvents, pesticides, plasticizers, components of gasoline, disinfectant, and wood preservative. Enters environment from improper waste disposal, leaching runoff, leaking storage tank,

Industrial runoff

Cause cancer. Damages nervous and reproductive systems, kidney, stomach, and liver.

 

[i] https://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualreports/pcp08-09rpt/pcp_report_08-09_508.pdf

[ii] http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/mx.pdf

[iii] https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/us-drinking-water-and-watersheds-widely-contaminated-hormone-disrupting-pesticide-atrazine

[iv]  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068045/

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