water fountain
Research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that hundreds of contaminants are present in U.S. tap water. To be exact, EWG revealed that 267 out of 500 contaminants were detected during tests conducted by more than 48,000 utilities companies across 50 states. This shows that no matter where you live in the U.S., your tap water is very likely contaminated.

Of the 267 contaminants found,
  • 93 were linked to an increased risk of cancer,
  • 78 were associated with brain and nervous system damage,
  • 63 were connected to developmental harm in children or fetuses,
  • 38 were contaminants that could cause fertility issues; and
  • 45 were endocrine disruptors.
Here are a couple more important details about EWG's findings:
  • Over 80% of water systems had known or likely carcinogens at levels that exceeded health guidelines
  • More than 19,000 public water system had lead levels considered potentially-harmful for formula-fed babies, at above 3.8 parts per billion
EWG publishes a public database where you can enter your ZIP code to see what's in your tap water. Just follow this link. You can gather information about which contaminants were detected, which are present in levels above health guidelines, and what to do to filter them out.

In the U.S., the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 sets the national standards for drinking water. However, it's been more than 20 years since the Environmental Protection Agency added any new contaminants or chemicals to the list of regulated pollutants defined under the act. Nneka Leiba, director of the Healthy Living Science Program for the EWG, stated:
"Most people turn on their tap water and think: It's clear, I live in America, we have these laws, I'm being protected. What people don't realize is that there have been no additions to the list of regulated chemicals for drinking water since 1996."
The main concern isn't so much that you'll get sick when drinking tap water. What the EWG worries about is the effect of long-term exposure, such as drinking eight glasses per day over a lifetime.
"Legal doesn't necessarily mean safe when it comes to drinking water," added Leiba.
Bottled Water Is No Better Alternative

If you're currently drinking tap water, you are most likely putting contaminants in your body.

Many people think that drinking bottled water is an acceptable alternative. The EWG doesn't agree. The group analyzed bottled water products. It published the analysis in its Bottled Water Scorecard. It concluded the following:
The bottled water industry routinely fails to provide information to consumers about the water's specific geographic source, purification methods and the results of purity testing.
So, it seems bottled water may be just as bad, but we won't ever really know. Why? Because the government doesn't require bottled water producers to disclose what toxins contaminate their products. In addition, bottles leach plastics chemicals into the water over time, especially if you store the bottles in hotter temperatures. Finally, bottled water costs up to 1,900 times more than tap water.

Use a Filter When Drinking Tap Water

Instead of drinking tap water or bottled water, the EWG recommends filtering your tap water first.

Here are some insights from Dr. Mercola to consider before investing in a filtration system:
Unfortunately, it's best to assume your water is less than pure and use a high-quality water filtration system (unless you can verify the purity of your water).To be certain you're getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower

Unfiltered water can also expose you to dangerous chlorine vapors and chloroform gas. ... Unless you have a whole house water filter, chlorine will vaporize from every toilet bowl in your home and every time you wash your clothes, dishes or take a shower or bath.
When you are ready to invest in a water filtration system, EWG offers a useful water filter guide. The group states that it is best to use a reverse osmosis filter with a superior carbon filter. Some of the top-rated filters of this type sold on Amazon, listed from least expensive, include:

Express Water 5 Stage Home Drinking Reverse Osmosis System

iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System

APEC Water Systems Ultimate RO-90 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System

Unfortunately, people do not put the same value on clean drinking water as they do on their cars or electronics. Yet, just as choosing organic foods, filtering your water is a smart investment. It benefits your health and lowers your medical bills in the long run.