Consumer Reports Says “Don’t Drink That Water” To More Than One Third of Americans

Graphic: Annabel Driussi for Our Daily Planet

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Having a glass of clean, safe water should be as easy as turning on the tap. But that’s not what a Consumer Reports/The Guardian US investigation of tap water nationwide found. More than a third of the water they sampled had “concerning” levels of PFAS, a class of lab-created chemicals that persist in the environment and human bodies for so long they are known as “forever chemicals.” In addition to PFAS, every water sample had measurable levels of arsenic, and almost every sample contained lead.  Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports said, “We need stronger federal standards so that everyone can have confidence that their drinking water is safe and free of dangerous contaminants.”  

Why This Matters: Most Americans don’t even know what PFAS is, but it could be really negatively impacting their health.  Exposure to PFAS chemicals, even in small amounts, has been linked to cancer, prenatal development, and thyroid disease. There are NO federally enforceable limits for PFAS. NONE.  Some states have passed legislation regulating the chemicals, but even these limits are too lax — above the 1 part per trillion that scientists recommend. And even though the EPA acknowledges that lead exposure is unsafe at any level, it doesn’t require utilities to replace pipes. This is why the Build Back Better infrastructure plan is so necessary.

Test Your Own Water Supply

Curious about the possible contaminants in your own tap water? Check out this interactive tool from the report, which helps you navigate testing and treating the water supply in your city. Like many other environmental issues, water quality breaks down along lines of race, income, and geography: Latinos face the most exposure to water contamination, and poorer and more rural counties also break EPA standard more often than their wealthier and more urban counterparts. 

EPA Admin Has Background in Water Quality

Michael Regan, who was recently confirmed EPA Administrator, fought for funding to deal with PFAS contamination and water quality issues in his former role leading North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. This experience could come in handy for making good on President Biden’s environmental justice campaign trail pledge that, iInstead of making empty promises with no follow-through, Biden will tackle PFAS pollution by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS.”

American Jobs Plan On Clean Water

President Biden’s plan invests $111 billion to:

  • Replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.  To eliminate all lead pipes and service lines in the country, Biden is calling on Congress to invest $45 billion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants. In addition to reducing lead exposure in homes, this investment also will reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities.
  • Upgrade and modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants, and support clean water infrastructure across rural America. Aging water systems threaten public health in thousands of communities nationwide. The plan calls for modernizing these systems by scaling up existing, successful programs, including by providing $56 billion in grants and low-cost flexible loans to states, Tribes, territories, and disadvantaged communities across the country. The plan also provides $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water and to invest in rural small water systems and household well and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.

Up Next

Toxins from Decades of Manufacturing Contaminate Orange County’s Water

Toxins from Decades of Manufacturing Contaminate Orange County’s Water

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Over 70% of the drinking water in Orange County, California comes from groundwater. But historic manufacturing nearby has polluted it due to the improper discarding of toxic chemicals. The LA Times reports that there are three major cleanup projects involving groundwater beneath 22 Californian cities, including Anaheim, Santa Ana, […]

Continue Reading 506 words

Tampa Toxic Wastewater Reservoir On Brink of Collapse

On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Manatee County, Florida as a wastewater reservoir at the Piney Point facility was on the verge of collapsing and causing a catastrophic situation.  As the New York Times reported, the reservoir holds nearly 400 million gallons of wastewater from a former phosphate mine […]

Continue Reading 422 words
Georgia Unanimously Wins Water Feud with Florida In Supreme Court

Georgia Unanimously Wins Water Feud with Florida In Supreme Court

The Supreme Court handed the state of Georgia an overwhelming victory yesterday in a long-brewing water feud with the state of Florida.   In the end, it boiled (bad pun) down to Florida’s inability to show its “injury” could be remedied if it received more water. 

Why This Matters:  Florida was its own worst enemy in the case.

Continue Reading 661 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.