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Environment & Energy

Interactive Water Quality Report Shows Which Contaminants Are In Your Water

photo of Lake Erie

A new online water quality report shows the types of chemicals that may be in your drinking water, and  offers suggestions on how to filter them out.

The interactive report allows users to enter a zip code and see which water systems serve a given area, and what contaminants were found in the study by the non-partisan non-profit, Environmental Working Group. The organization gathered data for two years and then asked water systems to check it for accuracy.

Bill Walker, vice president of the environmental group, says two of the most common contaminants can cause cancer.

“However, in Northeast Ohio – in Youngstown – you have levels of both trihalomethanes and Chromium-6 which are within legal limits, but they’re pretty well above what scientists say is truly safe to protect people.”

Trihalomethanes are a by-product of the process to prevent algae blooms. Chromium-6 – the chemical at the center of the book “Erin Brockovich” – can be a by-product of some manufacturing processes.

Walker says many chemicals are below legal levels, but above what scientists would consider safe for humans, and that needs to be addressed by lawmakers.

“Rather than increasing the laws which are going to govern treatment of the water, we need to increase the laws which will keep chemicals out of our drinking water in the first place. It’s a lot less troublesome -- and a lot less expensive -- to stop pollution before it happens, rather than try to treat it after it happens.”

The study also includes a cross-reference for hundreds of different types of home water filters, based on which chemicals they affect.

The water quality study is available here.