Every state in the U.S. faces water quality issues - from chemicals and contaminants to aging infrastructure and dwindling water supplies.
The drought in California continues to worsen, and the lead crisis in Flint shows no signs of slowing down as local authorities debate the appropriate course of action. Clean water, once taken for granted in the United States, is now seemingly harder to find. As more and more regions are affected by contaminations and more and more boil alerts are issued, it's clear that the water quality in our country is in serious trouble. Not to mention, 85% of homes across the country are also impacted by hard water.
There are multiple reasons why water contamination can occur where you live - in many states the water infrastructure hasn't been replaced in over decades. Infrastructure isn't a "hot topic" among politicians, and campaigning under a promise of repaired infrastructure doesn't seem to win votes. As water quality concerns surface across America, citizens are slowly beginning to realize that water crises like those in Flint aren't isolated events, but symptoms of a larger problem, and thus, taking matters into their own hands to improve the water quality in their own homes.
Every water system is unique - the possible issues with your local water system can vary greatly depending on where you live. What contaminants should you be wary of, and what problems plague your home state?.
Aging Infrastructure: The U.S. received a "D" in the drinking-water category in the American Society for Civil Engineers' 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. Aging pipes and wastewater infrastructure are more prone to water main breaks and contamination and can put residents at risk of water-borne pathogens and boil water alerts. Arsenic: An element that can contaminate water due to erosion of natural deposits, industrial emissions, and agricultural pollution. Arsenic is a known carcinogen with high levels posing an increased risk of cancer. Chlorine Byproducts: Byproducts form when chlorine, chloramines, and other disinfectants react in water. Eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, and an increased risk of cancer can result from consumption and exposure. Byproducts include Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane, Chloroform, Bromoform, and Dichloroacetic acid. Flooding: Major flooding can disrupt water treatment and sewage systems, leading to water contamination and water-borne illnesses. Fluoride: In each of the states listed, at least 85% of the population receives fluoridated water from public water systems. Certain studies have associated high fluoride levels in drinking water with dental fluorosis, a lower IQ in children, and potentially osteosarcoma - a type of bone cancer. Groundwater Depletion: A drastic reduction in water levels in fresh groundwater aquifers, which are typically non-renewable resources. Agricultural irrigation and severe droughts in the U.S. are largely to blame for groundwater depletion.
HAAs: Total Haloacetic acids refers to the sum of concentrations of five related disinfection byproducts in water. Surface water pollution results in greater quantities of HAAs in drinking water, and long-term exposure can increase the risk of cancer and developmental defects, and can induce mutations and DNA damage. Hard Water: Water that is high in dissolved minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. Hard water can leave lime scale deposits on dishes and home surfaces and cause buildup that decreases the lifespan of plumbing and appliances. Lead: A metal that typically leaches into water from corroding lead pipes and plumbing fixtures as was the case in Flint, MI. Lead is highly toxic to nearly every system in the body and has been linked to neurobehavioral development problems in children.