What’s In Your Tap Water?
For months a team from The Doctor Oz Show investigated the safety of the nation’s water and the potential cancer causing chemicals that could be in it. They wanted to find out what toxic chemicals would be found in tap water. In order to do this they conducted a national tap water test—recruited people in 19 cities across the country-and gave them kits to test their water.
Samples were then shipped to a testing lab for analysis. The participants were invited to The Dr. Oz Show and the results were shown to them.
It was noted that the government only regulates 114 chemicals, while there are 184,000 other chemicals which remain unregulated. And the results from these tests revealed that metals like arsenic and lead, chromium 6, and perchloride were to be found among these collected samples of water around the country.
“Our recent analysis of CCRs (Consumer Confidence Reports) from the 13 largest US cities revealed that few claimed to have no federal water-quality violations.
Though none of the other water systems were consistently unhealthful, all had some samples containing significant quantities of contaminants.
In New York City, for example, some samples had lead levels several times the federal limit.”
Chromium-6: The “Erin Brockovitch” Carcinogen
Remember the Erin Brockovitch movie which came out a few years ago. Well Chromium-6 is the carcinogen which was documented in that movie, starring Julia Roberts.
This movie focused on the town of Hinkley, California, made famous by the 2000 movie, “Erin Brockovich,” and which revealed the high levels of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.
If hexavalent chromium doesn’t sound familiar, then think of chrome, the stuff that puts the shine on everything from bathroom faucets to motorcycles.
In the 1990?s, it was the former legal clerk, Brockovitch, who fought to expose hexavalent chromium contamination in drinking water, in the small California town of Hinkley. This action resulted in a record-breaking settlement and a major motion picture about the incident.
At the time of Brockovich’s work, the link to drinking water was not as strongly established as it is now, but a 2007 National Institutes of Health study on hexavalent chromium revealed more evidence. Laboratory animals used in the two-year study developed malignant tumors in the gastrointestinal tract and sites “where tumors are rarely seen in laboratory animals,” according to researchers.
California has established a legal limit for Chromium-6. As one example of the Dr. Oz show testing of waters around the country, it was revealed that the water sample taken in Norman, Oklahoma showed that Chromium-6 was present at 1000 times the legal limit in California.
Perchlorate: Want To Drink Rocket Fuel?
Perchlorate and its salts are used in solid propellant for rockets, missiles, and fireworks, and elsewhere (e.g., production of matches, flares, pyrotechnics, ordnance, and explosives).
Their use can lead to releases of perchlorate into the environment. Perchlorate’s interference with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland can decrease production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development, as well as for normal metabolism and mental function in the adult.
Perchlorate, widely used by the military, “has been found in at least 395 sites in 35 states,” the AP reports. “The toxin interferes with thyroid function and poses developmental health risks, particularly to fetuses.”
For the first time, the EPA will be monitoring levels of the chemical in drinking water. While the standard could take up to two years to develop, the EPA has found through initial testing that the chemical exists in the drinking water of over 26 states.
Arsenic occurs naturally as part of the earth’s crust. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that exposure to arsenic can lead to diabetes. And unfortunately, the source of arsenic has been found to be the public drinking water in US.
Not only in the US, but also places like Taiwan, Bangladesh and Mexico have been reported to have high inorganic arsenic in drinking water according to the epidemiologic studies. The arsenic raises the level of sugar in the blood and damages the insulin secretion from pancreas thereby causing diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the blood sugar is not converted into energy because of low levels of sugar breaking insulin.
Lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.
Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to 8 percent lead. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.
Lead in drinking water is a serious health threat. Unfortunately, most lead water contamination comes from pipes inside peoples’ homes, which means that there is no way to remove lead at any centralized facility. The only way to remove lead from your drinking water is with a home water filter.
Radon gas moves from the soil and rocks into our homes through openings and cracks in our home’s foundation and through sump pumps, floor drains, and even through concrete block walls.
Radon can also get in through drinking water. Once indoors, radon can build up indoors to dangerous levels. When this happens, it becomes necessary to take action.
Radon is consistently rated as one of the top environmental risks addressed by the federal government and the leading environmental cause of cancer. The science behind radon is extremely strong.
If your home has a high level, a qualified professional can install a simple vent pipe to reduce your radon exposure. If you’re buying or selling a home, make sure it’s been tested for radon and that levels are acceptable to protect your family. If you’re building a new home, ask to have it built with radon-resistant features.
What’s In Your Bottled Water? And Where Does It Come From?
Dr. Oz even admitted to being shocked about the situation with bottled waters. When some individuals who participated in the testing of water samples in their homes found out about the contaminants in their water, they seemed concerned and indicated that they might shift to bottled waters. But Dr. Oz indicated that they needed to wait and see what was being revealed in the segment on bottled waters.
For this bottled water segment, his guest doctor, from Consumer Reports, presented information about the bottled water industry being even less regulated than the municipal sources. She said, in effect, that it was difficult to tell from the labeling what the source was.
If for instance, there was reference to the water being filtered, this could mean that it was from a municipal source or not. Many of us may have originally imagined that this bottled water came from pure spring waters high in the mountains. This impression, perhaps enhanced by the visual presentations through advertising, gives a sense of clean and healthy water to drink. Then reality settles in as you find out more facts.
The companies which sell bottled water are not required to disclose the content or source of their water, which may be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals.
Based on the answers to questions posed to the Dr. Oz audience, it seemed that a very small percentage were really aware of the dangers lurking in this great commodity called water, whether from the tap or bottled source.
In essence, the program introduced many to the inherent health risks and dangers which are present in our municipal water systems and in the under-regulated bottled water industry. The program did not extend so far as to take on the environmental ramifications presented by the bottled water by-products, etc.