Contamination In Bethesda, Maryland Drinking Water


Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder 
Updated June 25, 2021 to include current data

We've updated our report of Bethesda drinking water to include the most current data. We use data from the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission - the city’s water provider, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we have collected and analyzed. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we sell in Bethesda are optimized with these issues considered to be "points of emphasis."

Source Of Bethesda Drinking Water

Bethesda tap water is pulled directly from the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers. When the Maryland Department of the Environment did a Source Water Assessments for the Potomac River in 2002 and 2004, they determined that the most likely sources of contaminants in the Potomac watershed include runoff from urban and agricultural land uses, and potential spills from highways and petroleum pipelines. The following problems could also extend to Bethesda's neighboring communities of Rockville, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Garrett Park, and Silver Spring.

Chromium 6 In Bethesda Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a toxic heavy metal that was brought into the public eye for the first time by the Erin Brockovich movie. Unfortunately, despite a few public events, it remains unregulated by the EPA on its own. Both the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers are susceptible to contamination from industry associated with chromium 6. While there's no federal standard for chromium 6 in drinking water, but the State of California has determined at levels about 20 parts per trillion may cause a negligible impact on cancer risk.

Synthetic Organic Pollutants Detected In Bethesda's Drinking Water

The State of Maryland assessed the Potomac River Watershed a little over a decade ago, and found to identify potential sources of contamination. WSSC detected dalapon (an herbicide), Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (a plasticzer, endocrine disruptor), testosterone (pharmaceutical horomonel), and 1,4 dioxane (an industrial chemical) in finished water that came from the Potomac supply.

Lead In Bethesda Drinking Water

Unlike chromium 6 and synthetic organic pollutants, which come from source water contamination, lead is introduced into tap water when water comes into contact with older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail, such as the country witnessed most recently in Flint (but also happened in Washington, DC in the early 2000's), lead leaches into the drinking water and reaches toxic levels. Recent sampling for lead in Bethesda found that the 90th percentile concentration for lead was roughly 1 parts per billion. While these concentrations do not trigger a violation of EPA's Lead and Copper Rule, the EPACDC and American Academy of Pediatrics all acknowledge that here is no safe level of lead for children.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Bethesda Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. These chemicals are not well regulated by EPA, although they have been associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems, and the EPA acknowledges this. The levels of disinfection byproducts in Bethesda drinking water are near (and sometimes over the upper threshold) of allowable limits.

Still Have Questions About Bethesda's Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Bethesda tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Bethesda tap water, feel free to visit, reach out by email ( or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

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