Nearly one in five New Jerseyans are delivered tap water that contains at least trace amounts of a chemical linked to cancer and low birth weights, according to new data released Wednesday morning.
The Environmental Working Group gathered and analyzed testing records between 2010 and 2015 from 48,712 U.S. water utilities and found 267 industrial and agricultural contaminants present in the water that Americans drink and bathe in.
One of those chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, is more prevalent in New Jersey tap water than anywhere else.
More than 1.6 million residents of the Garden State are served by a utility that detected at least 1 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA in their water, according to the data.
You can see how your water utility scored using EWG's new Tap Water Database.
What is it?
PFOA is a man-made chemical that was used for decades in cookware and fabric coatings.
Manufacturers phased out the use of PFOA in 2002, but the chemical has proved to be ubiquitous and does not break down in the environment.
Most PFOA litigation is related to the chemical's release into the water supply. (Photo: Getty Images)
In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that most everyone in America has some concentration of PFOA in their bloodstream.
At what level of exposure PFOA causes problems is not known.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the list of adverse health effects PFOA has been linked to is vast, including:
Despite the dangers, there is no federal standard on the amount of PFOA that a water utility is allowed to serve its customers before action is taken.
However, the EPA did adopt a non-enforceable guideline of 70 ppt last year.
New Jersey has been ahead of the curve in some respects: Ten years ago, it was the first state to set a limit — at 40 ppt — although it also carries no penalties for violations.
"This guidance level ... is used by the state’s water systems to determine whether any actions are needed, such as shutting off a particular well, blending, or adding treatment," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
After a long wait, the Drinking Water Quality Institute, which advises the the state DEP on actionable thresholds for contaminants, recommended a maximum of 14 ppt in March.
That proposal is currently being reviewed, Hajna said.
The EWG notes that very few utilities are violating federal drinking water standards, but often because those standards are too lax.
“Just because your tap water gets a passing grade from the government doesn’t always mean it’s safe,” said EWG President Ken Cook in a statement. “It’s time to stop basing environmental regulations on political or economic compromises, and instead listen to what scientists say about the long-term effects of toxic chemicals and empower Americans to protect themselves from pollutants even as they demand the protective action they deserve from government.”
For PFOA, the EWG relies on the word of Harvard University environmental professor Philippe Grandjean, who believes the federal guidance level on the chemical may be "may be 100-fold too high" to prevent danger.
What can be done?
The easy answer? Purchase and use a water filter.
Most popular pour-through filters, such as Brita and PUR, employ something called granular activated carbon, or GAC, technology and can be widely purchased for under $20.
Utilities also rely on GAC, albeit on a much larger scale, to remove PFOA from water, according to Keith Cartnick, senior director of water quality for Suez Water.
Water is fed through a filter tank with GAC and the carbon latches onto PFOAs as they pass through.
It's the best method currently available, but it isn't perfect, Cartnick said. There are developments in the water treatment industry that are promising, he added.
But PFOA remains a challenge.
"It is particularly difficult to remove," he said. "It's not like bacteria where you can add chlorine and disinfect. You can't purge (PFOA) out of the water."
Cartnick also gave voice to a common refrain from utility companies: Let's stop the pollution from entering water supplies in the first place.
“We’re doing everything we can to control it … but you have to clean these things up at the source,” he said.
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You’ve been on the hunt for a multipurpose remedy, something that’s good for you and won’t have you holding your nose as you try to stomach the putrid smell. Fortunately for you, lemons smell great and taste even better. This powerful fruit is packed with bioflavanoids, vitamin C and other minerals that act as a great source of potassium.
Lemon water helps weight lost and acne which are two things that some women struggle with on a daily basis. When you’re fed up with over-the-counter remedies and quick-fix weight loss gimmicks, turning to natural products seems like the better solution. You have nothing to lose; you’ve tried everything else and you can find natural products at your local grocery store. Here’s why you should start everyday with a glass of lemon water.
A lemon can pack a powerful punch with some amazing benefits. It balances PH, keeps your skin clear and glowing, it kick starts your digestive system, helps with weight loss, and helps to control your coffee habit. Lemon is also a natural energizer, it hydrates, it detoxifies, and it oxygenates the body so it feels revitalized and refreshed!
Following are a few reasons why you need to take a sip of lemon water soon and often:
1. It’s good for your stomach
Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn and parasites. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent. The intake of lemon juice can cure constipation. It is even known to help relieve hiccups when consumed as a juice. Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile. It decreases the amount of phlegm produced by your body. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones.
2. Superb for Skin Care
Lemon, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can participate to cure problems related to skin. Lemon is a vitamin C rich citrus fruit that enhances your beauty, by rejuvenating skin from within and thus bringing a glow on your face. Daily consumption of lemon water can make a huge difference in the appearance of your skin. It acts as an anti-aging remedy and can remove wrinkles and blackheads. Lemon water if applied on the areas of burns can fade the scars. As lemon is a cooling agent, it reduces the burning sensation on the skin.
3. Aids in Dental Care
Lemon water is used in dental care also. If fresh lemon juice is applied on the areas of toothache, it can assist in getting rid of the pain. The massages of lemon juice on gums can stop gum bleeding. It gives relief from bad smell and other problems related to gums.
4. Cures Throat Infections
Lemon is an excellent fruit that aids in fighting problems related to throat infections, sore throat and tonsillitis as it has an antibacterial property. For sore throat, dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water and gargle frequently.
5. Excellent for Weight Loss
One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. If a person takes lemon juice mixed with lukewarm water and honey, it can reduce the body weight as well.
6. Controls High Blood Pressure
Lemon water works wonders for people having heart problem, owing to its high potassium content. It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea as well as provides relaxation to mind and body. It also reduces mental stress and depression.
7. Assist in curing Respiratory Disorders
Lemon water assists in curing respiratory problems, along with breathing problems and revives a person suffering from asthma.
8. Good for treating Rheumatism
Lemon is also a diuretic and hence lemon water can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to flush out bacteria and toxins out of the body.
9. Reduces Fever
Lemon water can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration.
10. Acts as a blood purifier
The diseases like cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water as it can act as a blood purifier.
Bonus: Lemon water is an excellent source of anti-oxidants and vitamin C, which prevents formation of free radicals. These free radicals can cause death of the cells and rob electrons. It’s an excellent remedy for a hangover!
Fun Fact: Lemon water is as calorie-free as water, but it tastes better, acts as a blood sugar stabilizer, boosts metabolism, helps with digestion, contains calcium, and can clean your skin.
Wondering What The Right Lemon Water Recipe Is?
First thing in the morning, add the juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon) to 8 ounces of lukewarm to hot water. Feel free to mix in a little honey, if you’d like. Drinking lemon water once a day is fine, but you can drink it twice a day as well, or add lemon slices to tea or water throughout the day.
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