Health

Map Shows States With Most Contaminated Water (Photo)

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A new map from the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that more than 27 million Americans are drinking contaminated tap water.

In 2015, all 50 states have breached the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, which, according to the NRDC website, authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to create national standards for drinking water to protect against natural and artificial contaminants.   

The 80,000 reported violations affect the drinking water of more than 77 million people across the country.

"These violations included exceeding health-based standards, failing to properly test water for contaminants, and failing to report contamination to state authorities or the public," according to the NRDC's official report, released May 2.

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A NRDC map shows the counties with a higher risk of water contamination. The Daily Mail notes that small, rural communities with a population of less than 500 are the most vulnerable. The top 10 states with the most violations, from least to most, are: Kentucky, Arizona, California, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas. 

"America is facing a nationwide drinking water crisis that goes well beyond lead contamination," said Erik Olson, health program director of the NRDC and co-author of the report. "The problem is two-fold: there’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we’re living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure."

NRDC reports that drinking water contaminants include lead, copper, coliform bacteria, disinfectants, nitrites, nitrates, disinfectant products and arsenic.

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Exposure to these contaminants can result in anything from diarrhea and cramps, to cancer, liver and kidney damage, miscarriages and cognitive dysfunction.

In 2016, a Harvard study found that more than 6 million people in the U.S. were drinking water with proven deadly toxins that can cause cancer, obesity, high cholesterol and birth defects, reports the Daily Mail. Around 90 percent of the violations were not subjected to any formal action and many of the violations were not even reported.

Contaminated water also poses a threat to crops and livestock as well as the humans that eat them. Those who eat fruits or vegetables that were exposed to contaminants have a risk of contracting food-borne illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella and hepatitis A virus.

"We take it for granted that when we turn on our kitchen tap, the water will be safe and healthy, but we have a long way to go before that is reality across our country," said Olson.

Sources: NRDC, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Steve Johnson/Flickr

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