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Lessons From the Flint Crisis: Why It’s Important to Drink Filtered Water

Lessons From the Flint Crisis: Why It’s Important to Drink Filtered Water

While it would be nice to believe that the Flint Michigan lead problem was an isolated case, it isn’t. In recent years, unsafe water lead levels have turned up in tap water in many cities. Lead is one reason to drink filtered water, but there are also other reasons.

Why It’s Important to Filter Tap Water – Unsafe Water Lead Levels

You may think that your water is safe. After all, you get the annual water report and everything looks fine. And it’s true that most of the country’s water systems provide safe drinking water, but problems exist.

Lead pipes are a problem

The first problem is lead water pipes. You may think that lead pipes are a thing of the past.

It’s true that lead water pipes are no longer used today, but many older lead pipes are still in service. And during a repair or change in water chemistry, these pipes can leach lead into tap water.

So, as your tap water travels from your water treatment plant into your house, it can pick up contaminants along with way causing unsafe water lead levels. Lead is not difficult to remove from water. A good carbon filter removes lead. 

EPA enforceable standards are not always stringent enough

Did you know that the EPA sets two levels for water departments?

You are probably wondering how this works.

The EPA sets two contaminant measures-one standard is enforceable while the other is not.

  • The unenforceable standard is the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG). The EPA sets the MCLG at a level where they expect no adverse health effects.
  • The enforceable standard is simply called the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) – this is often set higher than the goal

Think of the MCLG as considering your health and the MCL as considering your health and the costs of removing contaminants.

As a result, your tap water may have unhealthy levels of contaminants (exceeding MCLG) but still be meeting the enforceable standards (meeting MCL).

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?

Your water is not meeting the EPA experts’ standards for good health because the EPA also factored in the cost of meeting those safety levels.

To get an understanding of how this works, consider arsenic standards.

The EPA classifies arsenic as a known human carcinogen. Its MCLG is 0.00 meaning that to avoid any adverse health effects, water should not contain any arsenic. However, arsenic’s MCL or enforceable level is 0.01 which allows water supplies to contain arsenic and meet standards.

So, if you would prefer that your water meets the most stringent standards, you should filter it yourself. 

The EPA does not regulate all pollutants

The EPA does not regulate all pollutants. In fact, a 2009 study detected 316 contaminants and 202 of those contaminants had no safety standards. About 132 million people in the US had unregulated pollutants in their tap water according to the study.

The EPA has probably focused on the most dangerous pollutants but with over 200 unregulated, how can you really be sure? 

Your water department isn’t perfect

It’s possible that your water department is failing on certain regulatory standards.

People make mistakes. Processes fail. Equipment malfunctions. When these mistakes happen, they can affect many people.

For example, during 2004-2009, EWG reports that water departments serving 53 million people failed to meet the goal for Trihalomethanes a “likely carcinogen” according to the EPA.

If you’d like to guard against water department mistakes, filtering your water is a smart choice. 

How to protect yourself

How should you protect yourself? Drink filtered water. So many good, easy to install solutions are available.

Need help deciding which water filter type is right for you? Read The Complete Beginner's Guide to Water Filtration which will help you find the right filter in a few minutes.

All of our recommended water filters remove lead and 50+ more contaminants. Check out our top rated water purifiers. All recommended water filters are third-party tested and certified. You can view the test results for each filter to get a clear understanding of the filter’s performance.

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