Analies Ross-Dyjak | Policy Analyst
Hi there, Shark Tank viewers! You saw in our pitch that our Water Nerds examine water quality data before building a customer's system. We wanted to do a deeper dive on each Shark's water. Rohan Oza, our episode's guest Shark, lives in Los Angeles, so here's a breakdown of how we optimize our filters for LA water.
Where Does Los Angeles Source Its Water?
The majority of Los Angeles drinking water comes from the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Other sources include the Colorado River Aqueduct, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, recycled water, local groundwater, and supplemental water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).
High Levels Of Chromium 6 In Los Angeles Drinking Water
The movie "Erin Brockovich" came out of Hollywood in the year 2000, yet the chemical at the center of that story is still not regulated. Chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium is a highly toxic metal that is known to cause cancer and other adverse health problems in humans. Concentrations average 1,090 parts per trillion in LA water, which is 54 times higher than what's considered to have negligible impact on cancer risk. Chromium 6 is a widespread problem throughout the entire state of California, and many municipalities have levels similar to LA. Unlike lead, which leaches from plumbing, chromium 6 is present in the source water itself, so the only way to get rid of it is by using a system that filters it.
What About Arsenic?
Arsenic is a toxic metal that is known to cause cancer and other health issues. Unlike lead, which distributes into water from plumbing, arsenic comes leaches into the source water itself from weathered bedrock. Federal arsenic standards are extremely lax, and balance toxicity against the costs of removing it from drinking water. The most recent Los Angeles drinking water report detected an average arsenic concentration of 4 parts per billion, but concentrations were detected as high as 5 parts per billion. We highly recommend that anyone with more than 1 part per billion Arsenic in their water take steps to filter it, especially if they have children.
Does LA Have a Lead Problem?
Surprisingly enough, LA has lead concentrations above what health organizations consider to be safe. Lead enters LA tap water through lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of LA water quality samples analyzed for lead in 2017 were over 6.3 parts per billion. Corrosion control mechanisms put in place by municipalities can fail (like what recently happened in Flint, Michigan), causing lead to leach into drinking water. While currently in compliance with very loose federal regulations, EPA and CDC and the American Academy Of Pediatrics acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead for children. Additionally, the city of Los Angeles only tested 103 taps. In a city of over 4 million people, 103 samples is not an accurate representation of the total population.
What Do I Do About Lead Contamination In Los Angeles Drinking Water?
When building filters for Los Angeles residents, we take into account the aging infrastructure in multi-unit buildings. If you don't want to purchase a filter rated for lead removal, federal officials recommend allowing your faucet to run for 2 minutes before drinking or cooking.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Los Angeles Drinking Water
DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although LA is within poorly regulated federal guidelines, EPA states that exposure to high levels of disinfection byproducts can cause an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.