WSVN — Everyone needs clean water drinking water, but questions are being raised about whether the way water is cleaned in America is safe. 7’s Jeff Lennox says some people are so concerned, they have tapped out of tap water.
We turn on the tap every day, but some people are refusing to actually drink what comes out of it.
Howard Townsend: "I made the conscious decision to not drink tap as much as possible. I want to live a long life. I don’t want any health issues."
And Howard Townsend is not alone. There is a growing concern about how our drinking water is cleaned. Chlorine is the most common way to sanitize the water, but scientists have found there’s a chemical reaction between the chlorine and natural organisms found in the water. That reaction produces chemicals called trihalomethanes, which have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.
Paul Pestano, Research Analyst, Environmental Working Group: "There has been an associated risk with developing bladder cancer, or for pregnant women, when there’s prolonged exposure, there’s a chance that their infants might be of low birth weight or might have some birth defects."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows water utilities to have 80 parts per billion of trihalomethanes, but some researchers say that’s still dangerously high.
Paul Pestano: "We do think that the national level should be lower. I think the point of our report was to lower what the federal government allows."
The EPA acknowledges the potential dangers, stating on its website some people who drink water that contains trihalomethanes exceeding the accepted standard "could experience liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and increased risk of cancer."
Miami-Dade and Broward counties follow the current EPA standards, and both contend the water here is safe to drink.
Doug Yoder, Miami Dade Water and Sewer: "People need to understand that almost any human activity involves some level of risk. What we can say about the public water supply here in Miami-Dade County is that it does meet all of the standards that have been set."
But Howard doesn’t trust those standards.
Howard Townsend: "I think the way they do it now is about cost, it’s cost effective just to throw some chemicals in there to neutralize, like, certain really bad pathogens and things like that. I don’t know what the solution is."
So for now, he will stay tapped out.
Other countries and some cities in the U.S. have reduced the amount of trihalomethanes in the water, but for now there is no push to make that a nationwide effort.