Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Water - Not Safe for Drinking

In January the Governor of Michigan declared that the city of Flint was in a state of emergency because of the high levels of lead contamination in the city's drinking water. A new investigation by Reuters reveals that Flint is not the only district suffering from lead contaminated drinking water. After analyzing lead testing results from across the USA Reuters reports that around 3,000 areas have higher levels of lead contaminated water than those found in Flint.

The Reuters investigation Off the Charts is accompanied by an interactive map which allows you to view the results of childhood blood lead tests in 21 U.S. states. The map shows the local prevalence of elevated lead levels in children at the census tract or zip code level. If you select an area on the map you can view the results of Reuters lead tests on local children, These results show the number of children tested and the percentage of those children who had elevated lead levels.

Lead isn't the only substance that could be contaminating your drinking water. In 1993 Erin Brockovich brought litigation against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company for the contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium in the California town of Hinkley. The case led to the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit.

In 2016 the drinking water of two-thirds of Americans is contaminated with the same carcinogenic chemical. The Environmental Working Group has released an interactive map which allows you to find out the levels of Chromium-6 contamination in community water utilities across the United States. The EWG's Chemical Taints in Tap Water map provides a choropleth map view of the average levels of contamination found in community water utility tests at the individual county level.

If you select a county on the map you can discover the number of water systems in the county which have tested positive for chromium-6 and the number of samples which tested positive. You can also view details on the average level of chromium-6 discovered. As a guide to reading these levels you might want to consider that California has a public health goal of a maximum of 0.02 parts per billion of chromium-6 in drinking water.

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