Problems We Found In Atlanta's Drinking Water


Kezia Snipe  |  Hydroviv Research Analyst

**Updated July 30, 2021 by Christina Liu to include current data

The City of Atlanta provides approximately 98 million gallons of treated drinking water from the Chattahoochee River to more than 1.2 million residents in the Atlanta metropolitan area. For Hydroviv’s assessment of Atlanta's water quality, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Working Group, and the US Geological Survey. Our Water Nerds then cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature. The custom water filters that we build for our customers in Atlanta are optimized with this research in mind.

What are concerns in Atlanta’s Drinking Water?

Contaminants of concern in Atlanta’s drinking water include Lead, PFAS, Disinfection Byproducts, and Chromium 6

Lead Levels In Atlanta’s Drinking Water

Lead contamination in tap water is different from most pollutants, as lead typically comes from plumbing, not the water supply. When corrosion control measures fail (as witnessed in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, reaching toxic levels. 2020 lead sampling by the City of Atlanta indicated that 6 out of the 66 samples tested exceeded the Action Level of 15 parts per billion. Because less than 10% of the samples taken exceeded the Action Level, this was still in compliance with the law. The risk of lead in drinking water, however, may be much higher. EPA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

PFAS in Atlanta’s Drinking Water

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants commonly used in firefighting foam, Teflon, non-stick surfaces, stain-resistant surfaces, and food packaging. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, and developmental issues in infants and young children. 

While Atlanta did not test the water for PFAS in 2020, EWG has measured extremely high PFAS levels in the groundwater at Dobbins Air Force Base and the Air Force Plant 6 in nearby Cobb County. Not all water filters are designed to remove PFAS from tap water. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS from tap water, check out this Duke/NC State PFAS study. Hydroviv filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for PFOA/PFOS removal.

Chromium 6 Levels In Atlanta Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. According to testing conducted by the Environmental Working Group, Atlanta had Chromium 6 levels ranging between 0.094 - 0.21 ppb (94 - 210 ppt), with an average Chromium 6 level of 0.15 ppb (150 ppt), which is over 10 times the level generally accepted as safe. The California EPA has acknowledged that ingesting Chromium 6 through drinking water can increase the risk of stomach cancer and reproductive issues.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Atlanta Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. The EPA has stated that DBPs have been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. In 2020, Haloacetic Acid levels ranged between 24 - 56 parts per billion, compared to the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion, while Total Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 27 - 72 parts per billion, approaching the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.

How Can Hydroviv Help Me?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Atlanta water, but all of our filters also include broad protection against a wide range of contaminants. Questions? Email us at

Hydroviv's drinking water filters carry NSF certifications to Standard 42 (aesthetic effects--Chlorine Removal) and Standard 53 (health effects--Lead, VOCs, and PFOA/PFOS removal), and are independently tested to remove hundreds of contaminants.

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