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From Jordan's Desk--What's In Your Water?

A recent New York Times article unveiled nine unexpected and unwanted substances in our drinking water. According to the article, more than one-fifth of the nation’s water treatment systems have broken the Safe Drinking Water Act, leading to about nine million Americans being sickened. How’s your water?

Hopefully, your water is clean or you are at least drinking purified water. That’s not the case for many people, however, according to the findings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Many of our nation’s water treatment systems have been found lacking when it comes to adhering to standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which are enforced by the EPA.  Here are some of the substances the EPA has found in our drinking water:

Arsenic: A pesticide and wood sealant, arsenic is found in soil and minerals, but can be deadly if ingested at high levels. Intakes of lower levels can put a person at risk for skin, liver, bladder and lung unhealth. The EPA says more than 3 million Americans have been exposed to illegal concentrations of arsenic in their water since 2005.

Uranium: Large amounts of uranium can lead to unhealthy kidneys. While the EPA says levels of uranium in drinking water are typically low, 3 million Americans were also exposed to illegal amounts of this radioactive substance.

Radium: At low levels, radium can cause anemia and cataracts. At high levels, radium is carcinogenic and can cause bone, liver and breast unhealth. The EPA reports that radium levels in water were 2,000 times the legal limit in some areas.

Tetrachloroethylene: You can find this chemical in dry cleaning and metal degreasing, but high exposure can lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and unconsciousness. Exposure to high levels of tetracholoroethylene can also lead to menstrual problems for women. The New York Times article stated that the drinking water in Ramsey, N.J. has allegedly had illegal concentrations of this substance since 2004.

Lead: Lead-tainted water can lead to physical and mental developmental problems for kids and high blood pressure and kidney problems for adults. If your house was built before 1986, you may want to check if it has lead pipes, and also have your water tested for lead content. The EPA’s threshold for lead is 0.015 parts per million.

Prescriptions and Personal Care Items: Here are the last four of the nine found. The EPA found that Prozac, birth control, makeup and shampoo all make their way to our water supply, too. These substances can cause ecological harm, but the jury’s still out on whether these pose a health threat to humans. But still…who wants to drink these? Not me.

If you’re curious about how your drinking water measures up, you can go to the EPA web site at and check it out.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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