Las Vegas Tap Water Could be Unhealthy
Drinking enough water each day is a critical part of staying healthy, but this health step is not quite as easy as it sounds. Even if your basic tap water tastes fine and has passed the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, it could still have contaminants. There are many unregulated contaminants in your tap water that could still cause many issues, and trace amounts of barium, lead, nitrate, and E. coli regularly turn up in tap water supplies.
They might not always be effective, but there are many safeguards surrounding the public water supply system in the United States. Your local water supply system is required by law to test drinking water and make the results of these tests public knowledge. Roughly 90 different substances, such as copper, lead, harmful organisms, or uranium, are tested for in municipal water tests. If these substances exceed maximum contaminant levels, the city is supposed to work to lower the levels to a safe number.
Despite these legal guidelines, recent data for municipal water systems nationwide is not very reassuring. About 10% of the water systems exceeded maximum contaminant levels for at least one substance, leading to tainted water for over 23 million people. The most common source of contamination was coliform bacteria, which is a sign that the water treatment plant is not cleaning their water thoroughly. If coliform bacteria is detected, more rigorous testing is required to ensure that other bacteria are not also growing.
Another extremely common violation was high levels of arsenic, which may cause cancer, heart disease, and developmental disorders. Since a lot of medical research suggests that arsenic is harmful even at levels far below EPA regulations, the water that exceeds regulatory levels may be particularly problematic. These chemicals can leach into water at any time in the storing, treating, or transportation process.
There are thousands of thousands of violations that occur each year. Most of the violations are due to accidents or old equipment, such as the salmonella tainted water in Colorado. These issues are supposed to be fixed quickly, but if the town does not have money to fix whatever is causing the tainted water, residents may be stuck. In the cases where the violation was due to intentional negligence, it is very rare for the EPA to actually crack down on the violators. Though 28% of all towns broke a rule or regulation regarding drinking water, only 349 towns actually ended up paying a fine for their violations.
Public water systems are only required to check their water for contaminants once a year, so citizens may not be alerted to a problem when the water is first tainted. For example, atrazine is an herbicide that is used on crops during part of their growing season, and it can stunt or stop development. If the water is only tested while crops are not growing, then local water reservoir tests may never show high levels of atrazine, even though people are being exposed to it at other times of the year.
In addition to all of the regulated substances that may sneak into Las Vegas water systems, there are plenty of harmful chemicals and drugs that are unregulated. Thousands of drugs get washed into water reservoirs daily, but most water safety tests do not test water for all of these chemicals. Trace levels of drugs and chemicals can be problematic after years of exposure, and there is no way to tell how all of the new chemicals being found in water might affect people.
Due to the problematic way that tap water is regulated in Las Vegas and the greater United States, experts strongly recommend that everyone use a home filtering system for their tap water. New laws may be passed to improve regulation, but this requires support of environmentally conscious senators. Meanwhile, to protect yourself and your family, use an ion-exchange filter and an activated carbon filter to get rid of contaminants.