Although municipal tap water is regulated and most utilities stay within legally mandated limits on certain contaminants, some of the limits may be too lenient, a research analyst says.
The short answer is yes. While the Environmental Protection Agency regulates municipal tap water and sets legal limits on certain contaminants, and most water utilities generally stay within these limits, “some of the legal limits may be too lenient,” said Paul Pestano, a research analyst with the Environmental Working Group. And more than half of the chemicals found in municipal water are not regulated.
Using the right water filter can help further reduce pollutants like lead from old water pipes, pesticide runoff in rural areas and byproducts of chemicals like chlorine that are used to treat drinking water. Radon, arsenic and nitrates are common pollutants in drinking water, and trace amounts of drugs including antibiotics and hormones have also been found. Certain filters may help remove these impurities as well.
But water contaminants and water quality vary from one local water utility to another, so you want to purchase a filter that is effective at capturing the right contaminants.
You can request a copy of your water utility’s annual water quality report – called a right-to-know or consumer confidence report — to find out which contaminants in your local water are of concern. Some utilities will also run a free lead test on your tap water.
You can then choose a filter that is certified by NSF International, an independent public health organization that assesses products.
Note that it is not enough to buy or install a filter; you need to replace or maintain filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Filtering tap water may be even more important if you are pregnant, older, have young children or suffer from a chronic illness or compromised immune system.
Bottled filtered water is also available, but most environmental groups discourage use of bottled water because of the waste generated; in addition, bottled water is not regulated as stringently as municipal tap water, and contaminants can leach from damaged or overheated plastic into the water.
Do you have a health question? Submit your question to Ask Well.
About Simply PÜR™ Water Filtration Services
Living in and serving the Long Island community, we strive to make sure everyone has access to clean, healthy water. We have the experience, knowledge, and industry-leading technology to provide clean water solutions for water impurities, contaminants, hard water, bad tasting/odors, well water, acidity & pH regulations.
Proud members of the WQA (Water Quality Association), and the EWQA (Eastern Water Quality Association), we adhere to strict guidelines and the WQA code of ethics. As a Pentair True Blue Partner and Authorized Distributor of Pentair Products, there’s nothing comparable to the performance, and efficiency of our whole house purification systems, water softeners, neutralizers, whole-house filters, and alkaline reverse osmosis systems for drinking in the convenience of your home.
Our products are all NSF / ANSI certified, meeting the highest safety standards and quality performance. Providing our community with only the best experience of high quality water that’s Simply PÜR from our family to yours!
Simply PÜR utilizes accurate testing methods before and after system installation, as well as annual maintenance of all your water treatment equipment. Our Revolutionary Custom Built Water Treatment systems upon the completion of a Free In-Home Water Analysis, or an in-depth Comprehensive Water Analysis of your choice sent to our Certified Laboratory.
Customers Frequently Ask..
The answer to this question depends on which kind of drinking water you’re talking about. There are multiple agencies responsible for regulating water quality in the U.S., and there are some who are more critical about the way it’s handled.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of overseeing the water that comes out of your tap. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees and regulates the quality of bottled water.
Individual states are responsible for regulating water that is bottled and sold within their borders. Finally, your municipality must make sure it is following federal and state standards regarding water quality.
The EPA does not regulate private wells, and rules for testing differ from state to state. In many cases, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure their well water is safe.
Certain things can affect the flavor, odor, and appearance of your tap water, not all of them are necessarily harmful.
Many people with public water can taste the chlorine, although the most noticeable problems tend to come from private wells. Contaminants like sulfur can impact the smell, while iron will cause discoloration and staining.
The overall amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your tap water will definitely affect the taste, smell, and appearance. While many of these issues are not serious concerns, they can certainly be a nuisance. Water filtration systems, including a high-efficiency water softener to reduce hardness, can provide solutions.
This process is called “reverse” osmosis because the pressure forces the water to flow in the reverse direction (from the concentrated solution to the dilute solution) to the flow direction (from the dilute to the concentrated) in the process of natural osmosis. RO removes ionized salts, colloids, and organic molecules down to a molecular weight of 100.
You can get a whole-house RO, but more commonly, a point-of-use RO system would be on your countertop or installed under the sink. They’re great for treating water for cooking and drinking, but they don’t usually produce large amounts of treated water — more like 3 to 10 gallons a day. For that reason, typically people choose to install RO-treated faucets in the most popular areas of the home such as kitchens and bathrooms, as opposed to installing it for every drinking tap. Just like any other kind of filter technology, reverse osmosis systems require regular maintenance. That includes periodically replacing the unit’s prefilters, postfilters, and membrane modules.
Due to the media attention Flint, Michigan, received over its water crisis, a lot of people have questions about lead in public water systems around the U.S.
Lead (as well as copper) typically enters the public supply by leaching into water from corroded fixtures and outdated plumbing. Homes built before 1986 will likely have plumbing with copper pipes using solder that may contain lead.
Lead can cause serious negative health effects, especially in children. The challenge is that it is undetectable by human senses. You can check with your local water authority for information about lead levels, but it’s important to note that the CDC and EPA say there’s no level of lead recognized as safe for consumption.
If you have concerns about the presence of lead in your water, you can have it tested in a state-certified laboratory. You can also read more in our article on lead in drinking water.
Softening hard water can mitigate many of its objectionable effects. Water softening can be done either at point of entry or point of use. One of the unique advantages offered by point-of-use water softening is the opportunity for homemakers to have either hard or soft water for drinking. This choice is not available if the water supply is softened municipally. Hardness minerals can be reduced in water to make it “softer” by using one of three basic means:
- Chemical softening—lime softening, hot and cold; lime-soda softening
- Membrane separation softening—Nano filtration
- Cation exchange softening—inorganic, carbonaceous, or organic base exchangers
- Softening water for home needs is done almost exclusively through the use of cation exchange.