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Problems We Found With Las Vegas Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Hydroviv Research Analyst 
Updated July 17, 2019 to include current data

Hydroviv's Water Nerds have updated our assessment of Las Vegas drinking water to include data from the 2019 Consumer Confidence Report. We looked at data from the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. Our Water Nerds then 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 build for our customers in Las Vegas are optimized with this research in mind.

Source Of Las Vegas's Drinking Water

90% of Las Vegas drinking water comes from Lake Mead. Lake Mead is supplied by snow melt from the Rocky Mountains, which flows into the Colorado River. The remaining 10% comes from a groundwater aquifer under the Las Vegas Valley. This aquifer is naturally replenished by precipitation in the Spring Mountains and the Sheep Range.

Lead In Las Vegas Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures put in place by the municipality fail (like what recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, and can reach dangerous levels. According to the 2019 report, 10% of drinking water samples analyzed for lead in Las Vegas are over 7.5 parts per billion. Though Las Vegas water quality is currently in compliance with federal regulations, EPA and CDC both acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead, and federal regulations do not take into account levels measured at an individual tap. Homes built before 1986 are most susceptible to lead contamination. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that any taps used to serve children have lead levels no higher than 1 part per billion.

High Chromium 6 Levels In Las Vegas Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Las Vegas’s tap water recently averaged 200 parts per trillion for chromium 6. These levels are nearly 10 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Las Vegas Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although these chemicals are not currently regulated very well, the EPA has admitted that they are associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Still Have Questions About Las Vegas Drinking Water?

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 Las Vegas' water, but all of our our filters provide broad protection against a wide range of contaminants (including lead).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Las Vegas tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook. We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople).

Please Share This Las Vegas Drinking Water Quality Article On Social Media With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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Problems We Found In Omaha, Nebraska Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Water Nerd   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Omaha, Nebraska drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the city’s Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced Omaha'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 Omaha's drinking water.

Where Does Omaha Source Its Drinking Water? 

Omaha draws its tap and drinking water from the Missouri River, Platte River, and the Dakota Sandstone aquifer.

Lead in Omaha’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing, soldered joints, and fixtures. Based on the 2017 water quality report, lead levels in Omaha ranged from 0.5 to 14.9 parts per billion. 10% of taps had levels over 6.4 parts per billion, which is barely in compliance with the loose EPA standard of 15 parts per billion. However, if you were to ask toxicologists, pediatricians, or the CDC they would all tell you that there is no safe minimum level of lead. Lead is a neurotoxin that can have serious developmental effects on children.

Arsenic in Omaha’s Drinking Water

Arsenic is a heavy metal that typically leaches into groundwater as surrounding bedrock naturally weathers overtime. According to the most recent data, Arsenic concentrations ranged from 1 to 3.93 parts per billion in Omaha drinking water. EPA set a Maximum Contaminant Level of 10 parts per billion for Arsenic, but several health and regulatory agencies believe this level should be reduced to 1 or even 0 parts per billion. Arsenic is a toxic substance that is linked to a long list of health problems in humans. For example, arsenic can cause a number of different cancers (e.g. skin, bladder, lung, liver, prostate), as well as create non-cancerous problems with cardiovascular (heart/blood vessels), pulmonary (lungs), immune, neurological (brain), and endocrine (e.g. diabetes) systems. Hydroviv recommends purchasing a filter that is optimized to remove Arsenic from your drinking water, especially if you’re serviced by a private well.

Disinfection By-Products in Omaha’s Drinking Water

When water treatment facilities sanitize the water with chemicals such as chlorine, different contaminants can be created. These types of contaminants are called Disinfectant by products or DBPs. They are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 40.2 parts per billion but were detected as high as 66.5 parts per billion. HAA5 concentrations averaged 19.6 parts per billion but were detected as high as 37.6 parts per billion. For a bit of perspective, EPA set a Maximum Contamination Level of 80 parts per billion for TTHMs and 60 parts per billion for HAA5.  

Chromium 6 In Omaha’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is an unregulated toxic metal that's associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. Concentrations of Chromium 6 were found to be ranging from 130 parts per trillion to 1400 parts per trillion. These levels are nearly 70 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. 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.

Synthetic Organic Contaminants in Omaha's Drinking Water

Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate was also detected in Omaha's drinking water. This chemical is known for its ability to make plastic flexible. A toxicology report has shown that this chemical is known to cause reproductive problems in young males, stomach pains, and is labeled as a probable carcinogen. EPA set a Maximum Contaminant Level of 6 parts per billion for this contaminant. The Omaha water quality problem report detected concentrations of these chemicals ranging from less than 2 parts per billion to 3.11 parts per billion.

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Parchment, Michigan: Drinking Water Contaminated With PFAS

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

This past year, GenX, Per and Polyfluroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and other contaminants that fall into the broader category of Perfluorinated Compounds, have received major media coverage. Information regarding municipal water quality can quickly become obscured, so the goal of this article is to summarize key news components and scientific data.

Parchment, Michigan: Drinking Water Contaminated With PFAS

Sunday, July 29th, the Governor’s office announced a state of emergency for residents in the City of Parchment and Cooper Township, Michigan. Kalamazoo County Health Department detected PFAS in Parchments drinking water supply at concentrations as high as 1,587 parts per trillion. For a bit of perspective, this is almost 23 times higher than the Lifetime Health Advisory Level set by EPA and 79 times higher than the Minimum Risk Level set by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  

City officials stated that the next course of action involves draining Parchments entire water supply. The City of Kalamazoo will then connect their water system to Parchment, and begin flushing the system until levels are below the Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion. Residents are being advised to not drink Parchment municipal water until further notice. The City of Parchment sources its drinking water from 3 groundwater wells in Cooper Township. Kalamazoo also uses groundwater, which is highly susceptible to this same type of contamination. Additionally, because this category of contaminants is unregulated, municipalities are not required to test for it. Kalamazoo did not test for PFAS in their most recent Consumer Confidence Report.

What Are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of “emerging contaminants,” which means they have been detected in the environment but the risk to human health is unknown. GenX, PFOA, and PFOS are all common contaminants that fall under the category of PFAS. These compounds have been used in industrial and consumer products since the early 1950’s. Scotchgard, Teflon, firefighting foam, metal plating, heat/water repellent products, and stain resistant fabrics are associated with this category of contaminants. PFAS are extremely persistent in the environment, which means they are highly resistant to degradation processes.

Are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Regulated?

No. The entire class of contaminants is currently unregulated. This means that municipalities and state agencies are not required to test for it.

What Are The Health Effects of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

According to a study done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, increased cholesterol, and developmental issues in infants and young children.

What Are Officials Doing About Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

EPA set a Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion for both PFOA and PFOS. The rule of thumb for PFAS is that the sum of the category of contaminants should be no higher than 70 parts per trillion. ATSDR believes this level should be reduced to 20 parts per trillion. Again, Lifetime Health Advisory Levels and Minimum Risk Levels are non-enforceable limits. As we know, the regulatory process in the United States can take decades, so these values should be taken with a grain of salt. Several types of PFAS appeared on the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, which is the only progress we’ve seen in terms of regulating this category of contaminants.

Want To Learn More About Perfluorinated Compounds?

Take advantage of Hydroviv's “help no matter what” approach to technical support! Go to hydroviv.com and use our live chat feature. Our Water Nerds will gladly answer any questions you might have regarding PFAS or anything else water related. If you live in Michigan and want more information about PFAS in your area, we recommend reaching out to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Toxicology Hotline at 800-648-6942.

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Problems We Found With Milwaukee's Drinking Water



Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their 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 Milwaukee’s drinking water.

Where Does Milwaukee Source Its Drinking Water?

Milwaukee sources its drinking water from Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan has had a long history of pollution, including a recent lawsuit involving Chromium 6 releases from an abutting steel facility.

Chromium 6 In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, the city of Milwaukee's water 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. This years water quality report for Milwaukee found levels of Chromium 6 as high as 0.25 parts per billion. These levels are 12.5 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. 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 Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

In recent years, the city of Milwaukee has also had a problem with lead in drinking water. Lead enters Milwaukee's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 7.2 parts per billion. The highest concentration detected in 2017 was 130 parts per billion, which is a whopping 8.6 times higher that the Federal Action Level of 15 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. These health and regulatory organizations are trying to reduce the allowable limit, so a concentration of 130 parts per billion is of serious concern. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. 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.

Perfluorinated Compounds In Milwaukee's Drinking Water

This years water quality report for Milwaukee included test data from six Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). Perfluorinated Compounds are associated with firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, Scotchguard and other solvents from manufacturing. The two PFCs that are the most well known and the most researched are Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was detected at 2.1 parts per trillion and Perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid (PFOS) which was detected at 2 parts per trillion. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently recommended setting a Minimum Risk Level of 20 parts per trillion for both of these substances. These data are preliminary and the effects to human health are still unknown. This category of chemicals are “emerging contaminants” which means they are thought to pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, but haven't yet been regulated. Perfluorinated Compounds contribute to environmental contamination largely due to the fact that they are highly resistant to degradation processes, and thus persist for many years in water, air and can enter the food chain via bioaccumulation in certain animal species.

Chloramine In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, Milwaukee’s drinking and tap water is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Unlike chlorine, chloramine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Milwaukee use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

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 the city of Milwaukee’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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Problems We Found In Louisville, Kentucky Drinking Water

Ernesto Esquivel | Water Nerd   
Updated August 2, 2019 to include current data

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Louisville, Kentucky’s tap and drinking water problems, we collected water quality test data from Louisville and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced Louisville 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 Louisville’s drinking water.


Where Does Louisville Source Its Drinking Water?

Louisville sources its drinking water from the Ohio River. The utility provider, Louisville Water, treats and distributes drinking water to the metropolitan area as well as surrounding counties, including; Bullitt, Hardin, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby, and Spencer.

Lead In Louisville’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 4.7 parts per billion, and the highest level collected was 10.2 parts per billion. The City of Louisville only received data from 50 residential taps, so the small data set may not be representative of the actual scope of the lead problem. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. Additionally, once water hits lead plumbing and lead fixtures, these measurements will increase significantly. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with these types of fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Disinfection Byproducts In Louisville’s Drinking Water

DBPs are formed when chlorine or chloramine-based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. EPA regulates two categories or DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations of HAA5 averaged 27.3 parts per billion and reached levels as high as 46.1 parts per billion. The EPA Maximum Contaminant Level for this compound is 60 parts per billion. Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 27.8 parts per billion, but reached levels as high as 39.8 parts per billion. EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 80 parts per billion for TTHMs. 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. Health and regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs, and their toxicity potential. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancers and problems with the central nervous system.

Chloramine In Louisville’s Drinking Water

Louisville disinfects its drinking water with chloramine, which is a disinfectant similar to chlorine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many Louisville customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Louisville use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

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 Louisville’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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Lead: What You Need To Know About This Toxic Heavy Metal With A Long History

**Updated 10/17/18 to include video**

Wendy Spicer, M.S.  |  Scientific Contributor   

Where Do I Find Lead?

Lead is a common ingredient in paints, gasoline, ceramic products, caulking, and pipe solder.  Most commonly, lead is used in the production of lead-acid batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), and x-ray shielding. An estimated 1.52 million metric tons of lead were used for various industrial applications in the United States in 2004. The majority of that tonnage (83%) was used for lead-acid battery production.

While useful, lead is highly toxic. Federal, state, and local governments have worked to reduce the use of lead in many products over the past 40 years. Lead screening programs have helped to both prevent and treat exposed individuals.  Despite making great progress to create awareness of the dangers of lead exposure, roughly 25% of households in the United States with children under the age of six contain significant amounts of lead-contaminated paint, dust, or soil.

How Are People Exposed To Lead?

Exposure to lead occurs mainly via inhalation of lead-contaminated dust particles or aerosols and ingestion of lead-contaminated food, water, and paints. Adults absorb 35-50% of lead intake through contamination in drinking water and the absorption rate for children is potentially even greater.

Factors like age and physiological status increase the likelihood of absorption. In the human body, the greatest amount of lead is in our bones. Lead is also absorbed by soft tissue organs like the kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. The nervous system is very susceptible to lead poisoning. Prolonged lead exposure can cause headaches, poor attention span, irritability, memory loss, and apathy. Lead exposure is especially harmful to infants, fetuses, and children due to the developing nature of their brains.

What Are Adverse Health Effects Of Lead Poisoning?

Unfortunately, lead poisoning remains a common pediatric health problem in the United States. Pregnant mothers exposed to lead can transfer this heavy metal to their developing fetus.

The effects of lead exposure in children include, but are not limited to:

  • Lower IQ
  • Delayed or impaired neurological development
  • Decreased hearing, speech and language disabilities
  • Poor attention span, learning disabilities, and anti-social behaviors

Adults exposed to lead may experience gastrointestinal diseases and/or damage to the cardiovascular system, reproductive system, brain, kidneys, and liver.

One of the mechanisms by which lead induces toxicity in the body is that it essentially mimics other metals like calcium, leading to interference with many major biochemical processes. This interference can also inhibit enzyme activity, and cause cellular damage. It can often cause problems with bones, replacing calcium. Studies have shown that lead might also induce renal tumors in rodents, and is likely carcinogenic to humans as well.

How Can I Avoid/Minimize Lead Exposure?

From Lead Paint & Contaminated Soil

  • Keep your home well-maintained. If your home has lead-based paint, check regularly for peeling paint and fix problems promptly. Avoiding sanding lead paint, which makes lead airborne. If in doubt, hire a company with experience removing lead-based paints from homes
  • Wash hands and toys which may have come into contact surfaces or soil containing lead
  • Prevent children from playing on bare soil. Provide them with a sandbox that's covered when not in use. Plant grass or cover bare soil with mulch
  • Remove shoes before entering the house. This will help keep lead-based soil outside

From Contaminated Drinking Water

Hydroviv makes it our business to make your water safe. As always, feel free to take advantage of our “help no matter what” approach to technical support!  Our water nerds will work to answer your questions, even if you have no intention of purchasing one of our water filters.  Reach out about information regarding lead in water or any other topic by dropping us an email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. You can also engage with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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