We’ve assembled the following safe drinking water tips and other important need-to-know information that will help your family stay ahead of any potential problems.
What you need to know about water contamination
- Understand that boiling water can kill pathogens but it doesn’t remove toxins. If anything, it concentrates them further, because it boils away the water but leaves the chemicals. The one exception to this is chlorine; if your water smells like chlorine, boiling will evaporate much of the chemical.
- Exposure can occur in all sorts of ways. The amount of chemical exposure you get from a 10-minute shower by way of what is absorbed through the skin and breathed in via water vapors can be greater than drinking two quarts of it.
- If you know of a problem, flush your line for at least 5 minutes before bathing or cooking with tap water, and install a water filter that’s NSF certified for removing lead.
Monitoring your water quality
- Local water utilities are required to mail you an annual copy of their report of water monitoring and any contaminants found in the water. If they don’t, or if the report omits pollutants, check their web site or call them.
- You can also call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or you can visit their website at epa.gov/safewater/ccr/whereyoulive.html, which provides details about who supplies your water and how you can contact them to get a copy of the latest report. The Environmental Working Group also has a searchable database of water tests from 42 states, at ewg.org/tap/water/findings.php. Another resource to check your water’s purity is epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/index.html, or call 1-300-426-4791, or visit scorecard.org.
- If you suspect your water might differ in some way from the overall community (you have old pipes, live next to a waste disposal facility, etc.), arrange to have your water tested individually. To find a state-certified lab to test your drinking water, visit epa.gov/safewater/labs/index.html. It typically costs anywhere from $15 to test for a single contaminant to several hundred dollars or more for a complete workup.
- Additional information on water filters & wells can be found in our e-book, Toxic Childhood.