Study Finds Unregulated Chemicals in Tap Water

Study Finds Unregulated Chemicals in Tap Water
by Phyllis Wheeler

There are plenty of chemicals that the EPA requires municipalities to check on and limit in their water supplies. But there are more and more that aren’t on this list. As a result, an advocacy group is very concerned about the safety of women and children in America.

Olga Naidenko, Ph.D. is a senior scientist with Environmental Working Group of Washington, D.C. She addressed a letter to the EPA in August, 2008 ( On behalf of her advocacy group, she told the EPA that it should be setting water regulations that protect pregnant women and children from chemicals in drinking water.

The current EPA system involves listing questionable chemicals, including prescription drugs and agricultural chemicals, and then deciding not to regulate the bulk of them. She charged the EPA with “shielding toxic water pullutants from regular scrutiny,” using this listing process.

She named eleven contaminants which EPA has exempted from regulation because the EPA believes they are found only at low levels, she said.

But her group, EWG, found the opposite after reviewing EPA data. For example, between 1998 and 2003, 486,000 people in six states were exposed to tap water contaminated with the herbicide dacthal. Other significant exposures were to toxins dieldrin (an insecticide), 1,3-dichloropropene (a soil fumigant), and aldrin (a neurotoxin form of dieldrin).

In addition, a USGS study by Kolpin and others in 2002 (Environmental Science Technology 36(6)) showed that veterinary and human antibiotics, as well as prescription and nonprescription drug and anti-microbial compounds, are frequently found in our streams, said Naidenko. Many of these streams serve as important sources of drinking water. These potent compounds are all unregulated at this time, wrote Naidenko.

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