6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Contaminated Tap Water

tap water in contaminants affecting homes
Your tap water may be affected with harmful toxins and contaminants.

We all know what has occurred in Flint, Michigan this past year. There have also been a number of other cities affected by contaminated tap water such as Ithaca, Joliet, Chicago, Minneapolis, or even your hometown. Would you risk drinking tap water?

The problem with your water

Let’s take a quick look at what has happened in these towns aforementioned.

  • The town of Ithaca, NY had problems of a new disinfection system that produced high levels of chlorites in its water
  • Last year, Joliet, Illinois did not complete the required testing for lead, copper nitrate and radium so people were at risk of consuming these contaminants.
  • a 2018 Chicago Tribune tested 2,979 homes and found lead in 70% of them.
  • a $850 million lawsuit took place in Minneapolis due to water contamination with PFCs, chemicals that are linked to increased risk of cancers and infertility.

Basically, what this means is that it’s up to you to be aware of what is in your water. The City of Phoenix publishes water reports on a regular basis so you can be up to date of what is coming through your pipes and into your home.

tap water coming out of the faucet
Tap water coming out of the faucet.

The Most Toxic Pollutants


This is the most popular contaminant that leaks into tap water. According to the NRDC, America’s aging water infrastructure, built using lead pipes and fittings, leaches contaminants into the water of more than 18 million people. The EPA issues national alerts when levels of lead exceed 15 parts per billion (ppb) in more than 10 percent of samples.


The chemical Chromium-6 was first made infamous by Erin Brockovich and affects more than 200 million Americans. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment established a public-health goal for chromium-6 of 0.02 ppb.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS)

These pollutants are linked to cancer and decreased immunity and are estimated to affect up to 110 million Americans, according to the 2018 EWG report.


1,4-Dioxane is found in plastics, manufacturing, paint strippers, varnishes, and detergents. The toxin is linked to increased cancer risk.

Disinfection by-products

250 million Americans are affected by by-products according to the EPA. Over 600 exist and are a result of the chlorination process. These are linked to increased cancer risk.

In the water of an estimated 250 million Americans, according to the EPA. These are by-products created as a result of the chlorination process—11 are regulated, but more than 600 exist. These also are linked to increased cancer risk.


This is a common pestiside that are found at harmful levels fo 7.6 million Americans, according to a 2017 EWG report.

How to protect yourself

Know your water source

You should receive a Consumer Confidence Report every year by July 1st. This will give you an overview of what contaminants were found in the cities water. If you live in a condo, download a copy at epa.gov/ccr.

metal lead pipes stacked
Metal lead pipes stacked on top of each other.

Check your pipes

Home built before the mid-1980s most likely contain lead pipes in the construction. Many of the lead-leaching pipes still in homes across the country. If you are unsure, call your city’s water department and ask if you have lead service lines. There is no known limit of lead that is considered safe.

Flush your pipes with cold water

If you know that your home has lead pipes in the system and aren’t able to switch them out, the CDC recommends running the cold water at least 1-2 minutes before using it. Scott Meschke, Ph.D., a water expert with the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, explains that you should only use cold water for drinking and cooking (lead is more soluble in warm and hot water), and regularly clean out the faucet’s aerator to remove any chunks of lead that get stuck.

Test your water

There are certified laboratories to test your drinking water for harmful contaminants at epa.gov, or you can call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791. If you get your water from a private well, it’s important to test your water at least once a year. Schedule additional testing if your area has flooded or if your water looks or tastes different.

Not all bottled water is the same

According to the NRDC, about 30% of water sold in stores is actually just tap water, which may or may not receive further treatment. In one EWG investigation, the top 10 major brands of water contained an average of eight different contaminants – such a pharmaceutical (acetaminophen), heavy metals, and industrial solvents. This is a concerning issue when you paying good money for water. Not all bottled water was created equal. It’s important to look into the company behind the water and do some of your own research.

girl using the water cooler
Young girl filling up a glass of water using the water cooler.

Find a great filtration system

Although your basic carbon filters, found in pitchers and faucet-mounted devices, are an effective way to significantly reduce contaminants, they”re not going to get rid of everything. The only way to ensure pure, contaminant-free water is a filtration system called reverse osmosis. All of the drinking water provided by White Water undergoes this multi-step process. Our specialized team can install a filtration system in your home or deliver reverse osmosis in 5-gallon bottles. Both methods are affordable solutions depending on your situation. Give us a call today to learn more!