Rocket-fueled water is spreading across the country

If you’re still relying on unfiltered tap water to stay hydrated, you may want to reconsider.

Because there’s a very good chance you’re getting more than a sip of cancer-causing chemicals with every swig you take…

Back in 2009, the nonprofit environmental research organization — The Environmental Working Group — released a report showing that U.S. tap water contains 316 contaminants, including industrial solvents, arsenic, weed killers, refrigerants and a chemical used to make rocket fuel known as perchlorate.

Mmmm. A nice tall glass of ice-cold rocket fuel and weed killer. Sounds refreshing, huh?

But that’s not even the worst of it. A study released jointly by Harvard’s School of Public Health and its School of Engineering just this month found that 6 million Americans are drinking tap water containing unsafe levels of two more toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

The cancer-causing culprits are polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals have been used for over 60 years to create everyday items like food wrappers, clothing, furniture, mattresses, pots and pans.

The only problem is, they’ve also been linked to serious health problems like hormone disruption, high cholesterol, obesity and (of course) cancer.

The good news is that, because of their impact on human health, a lot of major manufacturers have stopped using these chemicals. But, unfortunately, they’ve stuck around in the environment. Now people are primarily exposed to them through drinking water. A lot of people.

Like I said earlier, at least 6 million Americans have tap water that contains unsafe levels of these chemicals. But that’s a conservative estimate considering there is no government data available on the levels of these chemicals in the tap water of 100 million more Americans.

Regardless of how widespread the contamination is, one thing is for sure… high levels of these chemicals in your water are not doing your cancer-risk any favors. They’ve been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer in humans, and have been shown to lead to the development of testicular, pancreatic and liver cancers in animals. That’s why the EPA has set a limit for their safe consumption.

For two of these chemicals, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the EPA’s safety limit is 70 parts per trillion (ng/L). But Harvard researchers found that in some places, the levels of these chemicals in drinking water were significantly higher — like the 349 ng/L levels of PFOA in Warminster, Pennsylvania’s drinking water and the 1,800 ng/L levels of PFOS in Newark, Delaware’s drinking water.

If you call either of those places home, those levels are a tough pill to swallow (especially without clean drinking water). But even if you’re not from Pennsylvania or Delaware, your tap water’s not exactly in the clear…

These chemicals were found at unsafe levels in the drinking water of 33 states total. But 13 states were more likely to have them in their water than others: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.

The highest levels of these chemicals were found in water supplies that were near industrial sites, military bases and wastewater treatment plants.

So if you’re from any of these high-risk states or if you live near one of the chemical-prone water supplies listed above, it’s high time to invest in a water filter. Activated carbon adsorption, ion exchange and high pressure membrane filtration systems are currently considered the most effective when it comes to filtering out polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances. They’re not cheap. But they’re a worthy investment if they keep you healthy and cancer-free.

Cleansing is also good practice to help rid your body of toxins that have accumulated over time. To get started anyone of these five internal cleanses. Of course for the water cleanse, steer clear of tap water.

Sources:
  1. “Over 300 Pollutants in U.S. Tap Water.” The Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  2. “Unsafe levels of toxic chemicals found in drinking water for 6 million Americans.” EurekaAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  3. “Basic Information about Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs).” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  4. F. Rahman, S. Peldszus, W.B. Anderson. “Behaviour and fate of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in drinking water treatment: a review.” Water Research, 2014 Mar 1;50:318-40.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.