• General Health Information Provided by the EPA

    In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA prescribes regulations which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations also establish limits for contaminants in bottled water which must provide the same protection for public health.

    Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

    The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

    Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

    1. Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.
    2. Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining or farming.
    3. Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, stormwater runoff and residential uses.
    4. Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organics, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff and septic systems.
    5. Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

    Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.  Immune-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk of infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare providers. EPA / CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection from microbial contaminants are available from the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

     

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