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With all of our advances in technology, industry, and science, can you believe that estimates say that there are tens of millions of Americans still exposed to unsafe drinking water, every year?
In fact, in a 2018 research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, scientists report that each year there are 16 million cases of acute gastroenteritis due to US community water systems.
Acute gastroenteritis is defined as “inflammation of the stomach and intestines, typically resulting from bacterial toxins or viral infection and causing vomiting and diarrhea.”
The problem is worst in rural areas, but even major cities face challenges with contamination—the more serious kind that can have lifelong health repercussions for residents.
Below are just four of the scariest toxins found within America's water supply.
Perchlorate is used to make fireworks and missiles, but it also finds its way into the water supply.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that over 16 million Americans are at risk of exposure to this chemical, across an astonishing 45 states.
Arsenic is a naturally-occurring chemical contaminant that is poisonous to humans, and long-term exposure to high levels is associated with higher incidences of cancers like bladder and lung cancer, and even heart disease.
Several cities in the Southwest obtain their drinking water from sources that contain arsenic levels above EPA recommendations, including Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Scottsdale, and Tucson.
Lead service lines (pipes bringing in the water) may have been banned in the US since 1986, but there are many old ones that have yet to be replaced. Estimates say that nearly 1 in 3 water systems within the United States still contain service lines made of lead.
The US Department of Health has taken action and reduced the recommended amount of fluoride in public drinking water. Despite this, the CDC reports that 66% of the population is still exposed.
One of the most worrisome risks of this toxin is compromised brain development in children. A 2012 analysis of research spanning 22 years found that children raised with water containing high levels of fluoride had significantly lower IQs than children in areas with lower levels.
Other toxins found in American water supplies include chlorine (problematic due to byproducts it creates, including chloroform), manganese, mercury, nitrate, PFOA (commonly used on non-stick pans), copper, and radioactive substances.
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