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Environmental connections to public health >>

Do you filter your tapwater? Should you?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When people ask what kind of water filter to use for their tapwater, we reply, "It depends on what contaminants are present in your tap water, since different filters are effective at removing different contaminants."

Which (usually) begets this obvious follow-up question: "How can I find out what contaminants are in my tap water?"

At which point we say: Easy! Use our national drinking water database & filter buying guide.

Both are easily searchable online and - here's a really important detail that might seem trivial: they're in the same place. Meaning, of course, that you can find out what contaminates the tapwater in your house, then right then and there find the right filter to improve its quality. No more excuses! What did we find out about the nation's tapwater? EWG spent three years analyzing the results of almost 20 million drinking water tests from water utilities. We detected 316 pollutants in water supplied to Americans since 2004. More than half are completely unregulated, and more than 130 turned up in amounts exceeding official health-based guidelines.

We also rated big city water systems based on three factors: the total number of chemicals detected since 2004; the percentage of chemicals found of those tested; and the highest average level for an individual pollutant, relative to legal limits or national average amounts, including for the most common pollutants (disinfection byproducts, nitrate and arsenic).

Check how your city ranks - and see the 10 best (and worst) water utilities.

Good news and bad news When the Environmental Protection Agency sets mandatory water quality standards, the tests show that local water suppliers meet them 92 percent of the time. But. The standards need to be much tougher to protect children and pregnant women, and the EPA hasn't set a single new drinking water standard since 2001.

Use the guide to understand and improve your tapwater Our online guide is designed to help you make safe, science-based choices for environmental health at home. Water quality varies considerably across the country, so we're providing local information for you to make smart decisions about the drinking water in your home.

With our 2009 online drinking water guide, you can:

Read EWG's National Drinking Water Quality Analysis report to learn more about drinking water pollution -- what contaminants we face, where they come from, what the government is and isn't doing about them -- and what EWG recommends to policy makers.

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