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What’s in Your Tap Water?

What’s in Your Tap Water?

Find out reasons and resources for testing your drinking water.

When LeBron starts his gameday around 9 am, he grabs a gallon jug filled with water and aims to finish it before he gets on the bus to head to the arena. Then he drinks water, sports drinks and recovery drinks during and after the game. “It’s not always easy to drink it all,” he says. “But it helps.”

We’re glad to say, according to a new country-wide study of 26 homes and offices in 11 states, whether you are getting water from private wells, public utilities or water coolers, most generally meet health and safety standards. But, say researchers in a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, they did find lead (below current standards) in 23 of the samples. The Environmental Protection Agency says the goal is zero lead. They also found pharmaceuticals, pesticides and chlorination residue.

The EPA advises you to make sure your water doesn’t contain lead, manganese and iron from metal pipes in your home; radon from soil; pesticides; nitrate; coliform bacteria from run-off from nearby agricultural businesses; or who-knows-what from a nearby gas station, mining, drilling or manufacturing facility, a junk yard or dry cleaning operation.

So, have your water tested, even if you’re on a city water system. According to the EPA, county health departments will often help you test. If not, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs. And check out the Environmental Working Group’s tap water database and guide to home filtration systems.

Medically reviewed in April 2020.

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