Depending on geographical region and efficiency of local water treatment plants, homeowners may be surprised to know that numerous contaminants have been found in drinking water. In fact, over 200 contaminants are typically found in tap water, roughly 100 of which can be linked to increased risk of cancer development.

Does this mean you should only rely on bottled water? No, that can get expensive, and there are contaminants in bottled water as well. Knowledge can help homeowners be more aware of the quality of their drinking water. So too can water tests.

According to the Environmental Working Group (a non-profit and nonpartisan organization), an analysis of tap water from area around the country occurred between 2010 in 2015. After testing and analyzing data on nearly 50,000 water utilities throughout the nation, approximately 80% of those utilities did find some contaminants that could potentially be linked to cancer in levels that exceeded national guidelines.

Common carcinogens found in water

Based on the study, five of the most risk-inducing contaminants include:

  • Arsenic – a naturally occurring mineral found in water, though high levels or chronic ingestion can lead to skin, bladder, and lung cancer growth.
  • 1, 4-Dioxane typically originates from hazardous waste sites, municipal wastewater plants, and industrial spills. This contaminant can lead to respiratory problems and gallbladder and liver issues and cancers.
  • Nitrates are a common fertilizing chemical used in agricultural regions, but can also come from city and suburban water runoff or septic tanks or wastewater treatment plants. High levels of nitrates in tap water have been associated with bladder, kidney, colon, and ovarian cancers.
  • Chromium-6 comes from not only natural sources, but is a side effect of industrial pollution. It has primarily been associated with stomach cancers.

Do water filtration systems reduce cancer-causing carcinogens?

A number of water filtration systems and water filters have been certified to remove many of the common carcinogen-causing contaminants from mainline water. Some are specially designed to remove the 1,4-Dioxane contaminant. Homeowners should be advised that countertop or faucet filters are not nearly as effective as a reverse osmosis home water filtering system.

If you’re concerned about your water quality, have it tested. Some home testing kits are available at your local hardware or home improvement store. You can also contact your local Department of Environmental Protection for testing kits or find labs in your region that perform chemical contaminant testing.