Problems We Found In Nashville, Tennessee's Drinking Water – Hydroviv

Problems We Found In Nashville, Tennessee's Drinking Water

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Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For our 2018 Nashville water quality report, we collected water quality test data from the cities water utility (Metro Water Services) and the Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced these data with toxicity studies, scientific reports, and medical literature to determine information that we believe the public should be made aware of. The water filters that we offer in Nashville are optimized with this research in mind.

Where Does Nashville Source Its Drinking Water?

Nashville sources its drinking water from the Cumberland River. Water is treated at one of two treatment plants: K.R. Harrington or Omohundro before traveling to 204,000 customers.

Lead In Nashville’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Although Metro Water Services is in compliance with loose federal standards, we believe that any level of lead is harmful to human health. Metro Water Services detected an average level of lead of 1 part per billion, which is in compliance with the federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. The water tested by the utilities is the source water itself and water after treatment. These measurements are not a true indication of community and household infrastructure. Houses built after 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. EPA and CDC both recognize that there is no safe level of lead, especially for children. That being said, any threshold of lead concentration is not safe for infants and young children. A lead concentration as low as 1 part per billion is not considered safe for this age group.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Nashville’s Drinking Water

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-based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Nashville’s concentrations of THM was 53 parts per trillion, which is relatively close to the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 80 parts per trillion. Additionally, the concentration of HAA5 was 48.1 which is also close to the MCL of 60 parts per trillion. 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 increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chromium 6 in Nashville's Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. In recent years, tap water in Nashville has averaged 60 parts per trillion for chromium 6, with concentrations reaching as high as 170 parts per trillion.  For the sake of perspective, these levels are 4-8 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk. 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.


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 Nashville’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

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  • Analies Dyjak