Do you know what’s in the water you’re drinking?

A new study from the Environmental Working Group finds millions of New Jersey residents and people across the nation may be unwittingly drinking water out of the tap that includes an invisible toxic cocktail made up of chemicals linked to cancer, brain damage and other serious health issues.

David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group said water from multiple sources in New Jersey and other states has been tested over the past 5 years and a comprehensive analysis has been done to find out what contaminants are present.

He said residents of the Garden State can get a rundown of contaminants in their water supply by simply entering their zip code into the 2021 EWG tap water data base.

“On there we do have some recommendations on what types of filters are effective for the contaminants that may be found in your water,” he said.

Andrews noted that while different drinking water systems may be in compliance with federal health-based standards, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe.

As an example, he said contaminants detected in Trenton Water Works tap water and in other water systems in the state include questionable levels of arsenic, bromodichloromethane, chloroform and chromium, all of which have been linked to cancer.

“Other contaminants that are also commonly found include disinfection byproducts, and there’s a skill there in terms of reducing those levels as much as possible in the water treatment,” he said

He pointed out New Jersey environmental officials are actually doing more testing for potentially dangerous substances than many other states, but New Jersey usually adheres to the standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and “we think the government has really fallen behind the ball in terms of ensuring safe and clean drinking water. Very little has changed in the last two to four decades in terms of drinking water standards and legal limits in particular.”

Andrews noted New Jersey has been stepping up testing for PFAS contamination (which has been linked to cancer) because we now have a better understanding of how certain chemicals, even in low levels, can harm human health.

He stressed changes must take place on the federal level because “most states don’t have the resources to evaluate each individual contaminant that’s found in water.”

“We do recommend that everyone becomes aware of what contaminants are in their water, either looking up their annual water report and ideally checking our tap water database to see what contaminants are found,” he said.

Andrews stressed it’s important to become aware and educated about this because “too often it seems that the scales are tipped in favor of chemical industries, the polluters, and yet ultimately our drinking water infrastructure is something that is meant to serve the public.”

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