82,000 Texas residents have drinking water with high levels of arsenic, but Texas officials claim that the chemically-tainted water is still safe to drink.
The Environmental Integrity Project released a report March 14 calling for the state to ensure that Texans have access to safe drinking water, reports The Dallas Morning News.
Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the EIP, slammed the state’s response to the tainted water.
“When told that their drinking water is violating the maximum contaminant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act, most people want to know: ‘Can I keep drinking or cooking with this water? What does it mean?’” said Schaeffer.
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“The health experts we depend on for advice, for translation, should ask themselves whether they would let their own families continue to use water that year after year violates Safe Drinking Water limits for arsenic.”
Many of the Texas communities with arsenic-tainted water are reportedly in rural areas. The areas affected include McLennan and Hill counties, several trailer parks and a state prison.
Prolonged arsenic exposure has reportedly been linked to kidney, lung and bladder cancer.
Despite the medical risks associated with arsenic, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has repeatedly held that drinking it does not pose a substantial risk, reports the EIP.
“This is not an emergency…You do not need to use an alternative water supply,” stated Texas public notices.
The report condemning the high levels of arsenic comes after the January 2016 revelations of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water supply, reports NBC News.
“The drinking water tragedy in Flint, Michigan, reminds us how important it is for government to communicate clearly with residents who are drinking contaminated water,” commented Schaeffer.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality claims that it took the necessary steps to ensure the safety of drinking water.
“Out of the 65 water systems cited in the study, all but 2 are currently under enforcement, or have undergone enforcement, either by the TCEQ, EPA, or Texas attorney general,” TCEQ said in a statement.
Still, the EIP claims that the absence of warnings from Texas left residents vulnerable to health risks.
“Telling consumers they don’t need to replace water contaminated by arsenic implies the water is still safe to drink,” said Ilan Levin, director of EIP’s Texas branch.