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Ever wonder what might be in your drinking water? What kind of contaminants are in your tap? If you have a well on your property, it can be difficult to determine what that water might contain since sites like EWG don’t have your specifics.
In this article, I’ve gathered a list of the best water contamination maps and links the internet has to offer to give you an idea of what kinds of things might be lurking in your drinking water.
Contaminates That Could be in Your Water
The reason we need access to the information about what is in our water is because of all the things that should not be in our water:
- Landfill waste
- Toxic Algae
- Coal ash
- Mining debris
- Factory farming runoff
- EPA cleanup sites
- and more!
Useful Water Contamination Links for Municipal Tap Water
Here are some links to resources that will aid you in learning more about the quality of your tap water, and any potential contamination issues in your particular city, state, or country.
EWG Drinking Water Standards
This PDF from EWG lists numerous compounds and their federal limits compared with EWG standards. Hint: Go with the EWG standards, and even then, many of these compounds shouldn’t be there at all.
EWG Tap Water Database
If you’re on municipal water, and you’re not filtering it… just know it has been tested. View the EWG water map within the database and figure out what might be in your water, and see if you still feel comfortable drinking it.
My Tap Water Database
An alternative source to EWG’s database.
USA Water Contamination Maps
Here’s a collection of harmful chemical compounds for your drinking water contamination maps viewing pleasure!
CDC My Water’s Fluoride
You may know Fluoride as the compound in toothpaste that protects your teeth from decay, but it also has an insidious side.
When consumed in large quantities, or over a prolonged period of time, like in your drinking water, it can lead to discoloration/damage to the teeth (fluorosis), interferes with calcium metabolism which causes bone weakness/fragility (skeletal fluorosis), and also has links to neurological or cognitive impairment.
EWG PFAS Map
PFA stands for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. (Gesundheit) They are man-made chemicals that do not easily break down in the environment and can accumulate in the tissues of humans and animals.
Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of PFAs can cause a variety of health effects, including cancer, developmental and reproductive harm, and liver damage.
Radium Contamination in Public Water
I think we’ve all heard of this one… Radium is a radioactive substance that was once thought to be safe for consumption – I encourage you to look up “Radium Girls” if you are not already familiar.
These days it is known to cause anemia, osteoporosis, and various forms of cancer such as bone cancer, lung cancer, and lymphoma.
Chromium-6 in Tap Water
Chromium-6, or Hexavalent Chromium, is a toxic heavy metal that can either be man-made through industrial means or occur naturally in volcanic soil and rocks.
Ingesting or inhaling high levels of chromium-6 can cause various forms of skin irritation and ulceration, kidney and liver damage, and other adverse health effects such as cancers.
Arsenic Groundwater Estimations
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that has several forms including an inorganic form which is the most toxic. It enters the water supply through natural deposits in the earth or as a result of industrial and agricultural activities.
A known human carcinogen, long-term exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic have been linked to an increased risk of skin, lung, and bladder cancer, as well as other health effects such as skin disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Vicinity to GMO Fields
GMO fields are agricultural fields that grow genetically modified crops. These crops have been engineered to resist certain pests and diseases, and are unaffected by pesticide/herbicide usage.
There is a controversy that these fields are actually sprayed with more chemicals since the plants themselves won’t die as a result, and certain resistant pests and weeds have become more invasive over time.
One popular herbicide, Glyphosate, can cause genotoxicity, various cancers, and disruption of the endocrine system which regulates vital hormone activity.
Estimated Agricultural Use for Chlorpyrifos
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that works by inhibiting enzymes associated with neurological transmissions – thereby leading to the death of the pests. These can get sprayed into the air or linger on the foods to be ingested by humans.
When inhaled or ingested, this compound can lead to headaches, seizures, salivation, nausea, vision problems, coma, or death. For pregnant women, exposure to this chemical can lead to developmental and neurological defects in the fetus.
Small Stream Drinking Water Reliance
Millions of Americans rely on small streams for drinking water. These streams have been protected by the “Clean Water Rule,” but administrations have been threatening to revise this bill and re-determine just which streams are protected.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) Contamination
Trichloroethylene is a clear, colorless, sweet-smelling man-made organic chemical. It is used mainly as an industrial solvent and degreaser. Spills and accidents in factories that house this solvent can expose it to the groundwater supply.
When ingested, this compound can have carcinogenic effects on the liver and kidneys and severely damages the immune system. Pregnant women should also be wary of drinking water contaminated with this compound as it can harm fetal development.
Carcinogen 1,4-Dioxane Contamination
1,4-Dioxane is a synthetic organic compound used as a stabilizer for chlorinated solvents like Trichloroethylene (above). Traces of this compound can also be found in household items such as shampoos, skin cleansers, soaps, cosmetics, food packaging, and more.
This is labelled a “probable” or “likely” human carcinogen, but we know better. When ingested it can effect the liver, kidney, and respiratory system. Inhalation can lead to vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Toxic Algae Blooms
Toxic algae blooms are usually an overgrowth of cyanobacteria which release toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. It is usually noticed as a colorful foam or scum on the waters surface.
When humans are exposed to these cyanotoxins it can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, or vomiting. There has also been neurological effects noted such as headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness.
Monitoring for Microcystins in Public Lakes
Microcystins are also a toxin produced by cyanobacteria from contaminated fresh water sources. They are characterized as a “blue/green algae” which appears on the waters surface.
These toxins are carcinogenic to humans and can cause significant damage, especially in regards to the liver.
Nitrate and TTHM from Farm Pollution
Commercial farming, as you can imagine, requires a lot of fertilizer which contains the chemical compounds of Nitrate and Phosphorus. When ingested in large amounts, Nitrate increases the risk of colon, kidney, ovarian, and bladder cancers; as well as causes the fatal “Blue Baby Syndrome” by starving infants of oxygen thus turning them “blue”.
The Phosphorus, on the other hand, can enter water systems, cause overgrowth of cyanobacteria (refer to toxic algae blooms above), and when treated with chlorine, a chemical byproduct is trihalomethanes, or TTHMs, which also cause cancer and harm reproduction.
Coal ash is the remnants of coal burned in power plants. It often contains many hazardous and toxic compounds including arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, radium, selenium, and more.
These toxic compounds and heavy metals can cause stroke, cancer, reproductive failure, heart disease, and can effect the brain development of children.
EPA Cleanups Map
Click here to see where the EPA has been involved in cleaning up various spills and other releases of toxins into the environment.
EPA Superfund National Priorities List
The National Priorities List (NPL) contains sites throughout the country that are of particular priority to the EPA. These are sites where there has already been, or has been threats of, releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants into the environment.
Landfills are places of decomposition. One of the byproducts of this bacteria decomp is the release of certain greenhouse gases such as Methane.
There is an effort to capture this gas (Landfill Gas-LFG’s) to use as a natural renewable resource for electricity generation through the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP).
Water Contamination Maps for US States
Here is a list of water contamination maps pertaining to specific states within the USA.
This is what I’ve found thus far, I will add to this list as time goes on. If you have any resources I’m missing, please don’t hesitate to send them my way!
Canada Water Contamination Maps
Here are a few water contamination maps I’ve found for Canada!
European Water Contamination Maps
The European Environmental Agency’s (EEA) website has some great information on the quality of waters throughout the country.