Problems We Found In New York City Drinking Water
Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd
Updated August 6, 2019 to include current data
For Hydroviv’s assessment of New York City’s drinking water quality issues, we collected water quality test data from the New York City Water Supply System and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced the city’s water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in New York City’s drinking water.
Where Does New York City Source Its Drinking Water?
New York City drinking water comes from 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes, located throughout the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain watershed. The New York City Water Supply System delivers 1 billion gallons of drinking water to over 10 million people on a daily basis. In 2017, New York City received 97% of its water from the Catskill/Delaware supply located in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulser counties and 3% came from the Croton supply in Putnam, New York. New York City is known as the gold standard for drinking water treatment, and rightfully so because they are able to serve the largest metropolitan area in the United States. However, none of the pretreatment procedures matter once water hits aging infrastructure.
Lead In New York City’s Drinking Water
Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Currently, 10% of the water quality samples analyzed by New York City Environmental Protection had lead concentrations over 11 parts per billion. The highest lead concentration detected from a residential tap was 277 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. Regulatory agencies are trying to lower the current standard of 15 parts per billion to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 190 parts per billion is very concerning. To make matters worse, in a city of 8 million people only 487 residential homes were sampled for lead. 26 of those samples exceeded the federal Action Level. The small number of sampling sites is not representative of the actual scope of the lead problem in NYC drinking water. Hydroviv strongly encourages New York City residents to take advantage of the free lead testing program. Under this program, residents can request a free kit to test for lead in their drinking water by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov/apps/311.
Chromium 6 In New York City's Drinking Water
Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, New York City has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. The 2017 water quality report for New York City found levels of Chromium 6 as high as 60 parts per trillion, with an average concentration of 40 parts per trillion. The state of California set their own health advisory level of 20 parts per trillion because Chromium 6 is not regulated by the federal government. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.
Disinfection Byproducts In New York City's Drinking Water
New York City Environmental Protection detected significant concentrations of Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. DBPs are formed when chlorine based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations were detected as high as 77 parts per billion and averaged 49 parts per billion for HAA5. The loose EPA stand for this contaminant is 60 parts per billion. Regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Some disinfection byproducts have almost no toxicity, but others have been associated with cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues in laboratory animals. 200 million people in the United States use chlorinated tap water as their primary drinking source, so we take understanding their full health effects very seriously, even if federal agencies fail to regulate all categories.
If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for NYC’s drinking water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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