Number of IncidentsMore Fewer
Arsenic is a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices. Approximately 90 percent of industrial arsenic in the U.S. is currently used as a wood preservative, but arsenic is also used in paints, dyes, metals, drugs, soaps, and semi-conductors. Agricultural applications, mining, and smelting also contribute to arsenic releases in the environment.
Skin damage or problems with circulatory systems, and may have increased risk of getting cancer
Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria may be present. Coliforms found in more samples than allowed is a warning of potential problems.
Not a health threat in itself; it is used to indicate whether other potentially harmful bacteria may be present5
Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes. Lead in drinking water can add to that exposure.
Infants and children: Delays in physical or mental development; children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities
Mercury is a liquid metal found in natural deposits such as ores containing other elements. Electrical products such as dry-cell batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, switches, and other control equipment account for 50 percent of mercury used.
Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds. The greatest use of nitrates is as a fertilizer. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted to nitrites.
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome.
A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus which, to become more stable, emits energy in the form of rays or high speed particles. This is called ionizing radiation because it can create ions by displacing electrons in the body e.g. in the DNA, disrupting its function. The three major types of ionizing radiation are: alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays. Approximately 80% of our exposure to radioactivity is natural and another 20% is from man made sources, although more frequent use of diagnostic imaging involving radiation (x-rays, CT scans) is increasing exposure from this source. We are exposed to naturally occurring radiation for example from radon gas emanating from rocks and soil, and cosmic radiation from space. We also carry small amounts of potassium-40 in our bodies from the foods containing potassium. Depending on the type of rocks where you live, 55 to 70% of natural exposure comes from radon gas, while cosmic radiation (which is greater at higher altitude) represents about 11%, and potassium-40 about 5%. Radiation may exist in drinking water from nuclides dissolved in the water from natural sources in the earth or occasionally from releases from laboratories or nuclear power plants. EPA regulates the following radionuclides in drinking water: (Adjusted) Gross Alpha Emitters, Beta Particle and Photon (gamma) Radioactivity, Radium 226 and Radium 228 (Combined) and Uranium.
Increased risk of cancer
Trihalomethanes occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with the disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine.
Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer
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