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The Power of Information

Drinking Water Quality Report


Philadelphia Water Department - Philadelphia, PA


Serves 1,600,000 people - Test data available: 2004-2009

This drinking water quality report shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It is part of EWG's national database that includes 47,667 drinking water utilities and 20 million test results. Water utilities nationwide detected more than 300 pollutants between 2004 and 2009. More than half of these chemicals are unregulated, legal in any amount. Despite this widespread contamination, the federal government invests few resources to protecting rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater from pollution in the first place. The information below summarizes test results for this utility and lists potential health concerns.

 
This Drinking Water System
National Average
Exceed Health GuidelinesTests showing chemicals at concentrations above health guidelines established by federal and state health agencies. These guidelines are typically set at a levels that pose no significant health risk.
8 chemicals
4
Health Standard ExceedencesChemicals detected at concentrations above the legal limit, the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCLs) established by the U.S. EPA. Most MCLs are based on annual averages, so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.
2 chemicals
0.5
Pollutants FoundThe total number of contaminants detected since 2004, according to data provided by the state water agency.
12 chemicals
8
Tests ConductedThe total number of number of water quality tests conducted by water utilities and recorded in data provided by the state water agency.
2,711tests
420

Contaminants Exceeding Health Guidelines

ContaminantAverage/
Maximum
Result
Health Limit
Exceeded
Legal Limit
Exceeded

Testing History

-Tested      -Detected      -Over Health Guidelines      -Over Legal Limit*
Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)Total trihalomethanes constitute the sum of four disinfection byproducts: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform.44.62 ppb
90 ppb
Yes
9.8 ppb
Yes
80 ppb
Total haloacetic acids (HAAs)Total haloacetic acids refers to the sum of the concentrations of five related disinfection byproducts in a water sample: dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid.31.39 ppb
64.08 ppb
Yes
0.7 ppb
Yes
60 ppb
Arsenic (total)Arsenic contaminates drinking water due to mining runoff, erosion of natural deposits, emissions from glass and electronics processing and the use of arsenical compounds as wood preservatives and pesticides.0.3 ppb
2 ppb
Yes
MCLGA non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.: 0 ppb
No
10 ppb
Radium-228Radium-228 is a radioactive element usually found around uranium deposits.0.48 pCi/L
1.21 pCi/L
Yes
MCLGA non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.: 0 pCi/L
No
5 pCi/L
AtrazineAtrazine is an endocrine-disrupting herbicide used on corn, sugarcane and sorghum; it is associated with adverse reproductive effects and toxicity to the immune system.0.1 ppb
0.34 ppb
Yes
0.15 ppb
No
3 ppb
Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)Dichloromethane is a widely-used paint remover, solvent and metal degreasing agent; it is discharged into the environment from the manufacture of chemicals, textiles, electronics, metals and plastics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.<0.01 ppb
0.2 ppb
Yes
MCLGA non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.: 0 ppb
No
5 ppb
Alachlor (Lasso)Alachlor is a widely-used herbicide applied to corn, soy and sorghum; it is carcinogenic to animals and potentially carcinogenic in people.<0.01 ppb
0.05 ppb
Yes
MCLGA non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.: 0 ppb
No
2 ppb
PentachlorophenolPentachlorophenol is a carcinogenic pollutant discharged from wood preserving factories.<0.01 ppb
<0.01 ppb
Yes
MCLGA non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.: 0 ppb
No
1 ppb
NOTE: Each dot in the above graph represents one month.
* Water utilities are noted as exceeding the legal limit if any test is above the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Most MCLs are based on annual averages so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.

Other Detected Contaminants

ContaminantAverage/
Maximum
Result
Health Limit
Exceeded
Legal Limit
Exceeded

Testing History

-Tested      -Detected      -Over Health Guidelines      -Over Legal Limit*
NitrateNitrate enters drinking water sources from fertilizer runoff, leaching septic tanks, and erosion of natural deposits; it is also emitted by chemical, petrochemical and metal-finishing industries.2.69 ppm
4.56 ppm
No
10 ppm
No
10 ppm
SimazineSimazine is a widely used herbicide that has been associated with endocrine disruption and cancer in experimental studies.0.02 ppb
0.08 ppb
No
4 ppb
No
4 ppb
LindaneLindane is an insecticide still used in shampoo to control lice and scabies; it is a form of hexachlorocyclohexane, a highly toxic pesticide phased out of agricultural use in the U.S.<0.01 ppb
<0.01 ppb
No
0.03 ppb
No
0.2 ppb
Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium)Alpha particles are a form of radiation associated with mining waste pollutants and natural sources.0.31 pCi/L
1.24 pCi/L
NoNo
15 pCi/L
NOTE: Each dot in the above graph represents one month.
* Water utilities are noted as exceeding the legal limit if any test is above the maximum contaminant level (MCL). Most MCLs are based on annual averages so exceeding the MCL for one test does not necessarily indicate that the system is out of compliance.

Contaminants Not Detected - 38 chemicals

1,1,1-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, 1,2 Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,2-Dichloropropane, Benzene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Butachlor, Carbofuran, Carbon tetrachloride, Chlordane, cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, Combined Uranium (pCi/L), Di(2-Ethylhexyl) adipate, Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Endothall, Ethylbenzene, Ethylene dibromide (EDB), Hexachlorocyclopentadiene, Methoxychlor, Metolachlor, Metribuzin, Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene), o-Dichlorobenzene, Oxamyl (Vydate), p-Dichlorobenzene, Picloram, Propachlor, Radium-226, Styrene, Tetrachloroethylene, Toluene, trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene, Trichloroethylene, Vinyl chloride, Xylenes (total)

Pollution Summary

12Total Contaminants Detected (2004 - 2009)

Arsenic (total), Nitrate, Lindane, Simazine, Atrazine, Alachlor (Lasso), Pentachlorophenol, Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), Dichloromethane (methylene chloride), Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium), Radium-228

6Agricultural Pollutants
(pesticides, fertilizer, factory farms)

Arsenic (total), Nitrate, Lindane, Simazine, Atrazine, Alachlor (Lasso)

4Sprawl and Urban Pollutants
(road runoff, lawn pesticides, human waste)

Arsenic (total), Nitrate, Lindane, Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)

7Industrial Pollutants

Arsenic (total), Nitrate, Lindane, Pentachlorophenol, Dichloromethane (methylene chloride), Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium), Radium-228

2Water Treatment and Distribution Byproducts
(pipes and fixtures, treatment chemicals and byproducts)

Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

4Naturally Occurring
(naturally present but increased for lands denuded by sprawl, agriculture, or industrial development)

Arsenic (total), Nitrate, Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium), Radium-228

EPA Violation Summary

Violation CategoryNumber of Violations
MCL and Treatment
(click see violations)
1
Reporting
(click see violations)
6
Monitoring
(click see violations)
10

Information on violations is drawn directly from EPA's national violations database in the Agency's Safe Drinking Water Information System. Analyses by others have raised questions about the quality of the information in EPA's database. For the purposes of this investigation, EWG is not showing below or including in our analyses, those violations for individual water suppliers that occurred on days for which the total number of violations assigned by EPA to that water supplier was greater than 20. This criteria was based on common characteristics of incorrect violations data as identified by water utilities, from a review of EPA's violations data by several hundred utilities prior to the release of EWG's investigation.