Teflon chemicals could mean trouble
Other unregulated contaminants on the EWG’s radar are two “perfluorinated” chemicals long used in many consumer products: PFOA, formerly used to manufacture Teflon, and PFOS, formerly a Scotchgard ingredient. A 2016 EWG analysis of drinking water data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the water supplies of over 5.2 million homes could be contaminated with these chemicals—which have been linked to developmental and reproductive health problems—at levels higher than those considered safe by the EPA.
Metals, like lead, can lurk in water
Lead is a natural chemical element not generally found in the rivers and lakes that supply a water system. But it can sneak into your water supply via the plumbing—including the pipes that connect homes to water mains as well as the solder, pipes, and fittings, according to the EPA. They recommend that if you have a lead service line, you contact your local water supplier to determine if your H20 should be tested. Some areas of the country also have site-specific problems, adds Raymond M. Hozalski, a professor in the department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at the University of Minnesota. For example, the toxic metal arsenic has been found in groundwater supplies in some parts of Western Minnesota, where treatment options are available to remedy it. Here are the 10 ways your body changes when you start drinking enough water.
Bacteria, like legionella, can breed in water
“We’ve seen an increase nationwide in cases of legionella over the last 10 years or so, and there is evidence that it can be transmitted via water supplies,” says Hozalski, who explains that the exposure is not through drinking affected water but through showering and breathing in aerosols containing these bacteria. But, he points out, not everyone need be alarmed. “The main concern is for people who are immunocompromised—those with AIDS or lung conditions or those who are undergoing chemotherapy have a higher risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease,” he says. “Healthy people may just get a flu-like illness called Pontiac fever that goes away after a few days.” Homeowners concerned about legionella could increase their hot water heater temperature; setting it to about 122 Fahrenheit could help inactivate the bacteria, according to Dr. Hozalski. But of course cranking up the dial means potential for scalding, especially in households with children, in which case you could have a plumber install a thermostatic mixing valve, which lessens the risk of burns. Check out these 13 genius ways to sneak more water into your day.