Problems We Found In San Jose's Drinking Water
Kezia Snipe | Hydroviv Research Analyst
Updated August 5, 2019 to include current data
For Hydroviv’s assessment of San Jose drinking water, our Water Nerds collected test data from San Jose Water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced San Jose’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 San Jose’s drinking water.
Where Does San Jose Source Its Drinking Water?
San Jose sources its drinking water from the Santa Clara Groundwater Sub-basin, surface water from the Santa Cruz mountains, and imported surface water provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
Chromium 6 In San Jose's Drinking Water
Lets begin with a contaminant we found called chromium 6. Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, San Jose's tap water has had a problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. This years water quality report for San Jose found levels of Chromium 6 in their ground water averaged 2500 parts per trillion, but reached levels as high as 5100 parts per trillion. These levels are nearly 100 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk, which is 20 parts per trillion. The state of California set their own health advisory level 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 disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.
Lead In San Jose's Drinking Water
In recent years, San Jose has had a huge problem with lead in drinking water. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 5 parts per billion. Though currently in compliance with the federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion, Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Disease Control EPA both recognize that there is no safe level of lead, especially for children. Additionally, these measurements may not be a true indication of your tap water if your home has lead plumbing or lead fixtures. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. Lead enters San Jose's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.
Disinfection Byproducts In San Jose's Drinking Water
San Jose municipal tap water was in also in exceedance of loose EPA standards for Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations of haloacetic acids were detected as high as 36 parts per billion. EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 60 parts per billion for Haloacetic Acids. Concentrations of Total Trihalomethanes were detected as high as 68 parts per billion. EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 80 parts per billion for trihalomethanes. Disinfection Byproducts 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 or chloramine-based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. 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.
It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for San Jose's tap and drinking water quality problems, 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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