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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Drinking Water Regulations Leave Room for Improvement

Virtually every city across the nation has a known carcinogen present in the water that is acceptable by current law. There are two sets of standards that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) utilizes for regulating drinking water in the United States. The Maximum Contamination Level Goal (MCLG) is the recommended level of a contaminant where there is zero risk to health. The second is the Maximum Contamination Level (MCL), the highest level of a contaminant allowed by law. The MCL is determined by the cost to treat the contaminant and the technology available to treat it, and is set as close to the MCLG as possible. The MCLG is currently only a recommendation; the MCL is the only enforceable standard.

It is recommended to consume a level of zero parts per billion of arsenic to avoid any health risk. However, the city can legally supply water with as much as 10 parts per billion of arsenic in Minnesota.

The Safe Drinking Water Act originally passed by Congress in 1974 did not account for the newest chemicals or drugs found in drinking water. During a five-month investigation in 2008, the Associated Press discovered that 24 major municipalities had drugs present in the drinking water ranging from anxiety and depression medications to sex hormones. Minneapolis drinking water tested positive for caffeine. None of these drugs is currently regulated. In addition, it is not required that they be tested for nor, most surprisingly, is it required that residents drinking the water be notified.

Although there are drinking water standards in place, this does not mean the quality of drinking water has to be limited by them. In a report called Reducing Environmental Cancer Risks: What We Can Do Now, the President’s Cancer Panel stated: “Individuals and families have many opportunities to reduce or eliminate chemical exposures. For example, filtering home tap water or well water can decrease exposure to numerous known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”

Because there are many different water filter technologies available and because specific technology is needed to address certain contaminants, it is best to seek a professional recommendation. The Water Quality Association is a great place to search for a qualified professional.

Justin Regnier is the sales manager of Merle’s Water Conditioning, St. Paul. For more information, call 651-777-1349, email [email protected] or visit

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