EWG Tap Water Database: Water Quality Report by ZIP Code (2023)

April 2021 update:EWG's Tap Water Database was last updated in 2019. EWG's Tap Water Database still works to check water quality by ZIP code, however please note that the data is only reflect 2019 or earlier. Your water quality may have changed significantly since then, so your best bet is to contact your water provider for the most recent water quality report.

every year for1st of Julyyou should receive a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) from your water supplier (also known as an annual drinking water quality report). Your CCR tells you where your water comes from, what it contains, and potential health risks. I can't stress enough: Just because your drinking water meets legal standards doesn't mean it's safe. Legal ≠ safe. A sufficient water filter is the best way to protect yourself from harmful contaminants.

How do I check my water quality by zip code?

Contact your water provider for the most recent water quality report.

If you want to see historical water quality (2019 and before), visitEWG Tap Water Databaseand enter your zip code.

OEnvironmental Working Group TapWaterDatabasewas released in July 2017. TheEWGtap Water Databaseis an online innovation that raises awareness about the quality of drinking water in the United States. This also allows people to check tap water quality by zip code. It is updated periodically.

The EnvironmentalWorking Group (EWG) is known for posting these resources online and has a hard-earned reputation for its data-driven research projects. In fact, youFarm Subsidy DatabasemiDatabase of cosmetics for deep skincombined they attract tens of millions of visitors each year. Both were hailed as ambitious and well thought out, affecting political debates and the consumer market. Given the organization's impact thus far, its recent launch of the EWG tap water database is a step in the right direction to improve the quality of our drinking water.

Pair of chickens:
How does the EWG Tap Water database work?
What findings can I expect from the Environmental Working Group's tap water database?
The State of America's Drinking Water: What is the Environmental Working Group's Drinking Water Database?
Unanswered Questions from the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database
Why is there a difference between the legal limit and the sanitary guideline for drinking water?
Are all water contaminants listed in the EWG Tap Water database?
What can I do to improve the quality of my drinking water according to the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database?

How does the EWG Tap Water database work?

The Environmental Working Group's drinking water database allows citizens to check the quality of their drinking water based on their ZIP code or local utility. The data comes from tests conducted by state and local utility companies and has been reported to the appropriate state and/or federal authorities.

Instead of comparing the level of water contaminants known to be present in municipal water against legal limits set by regulatory agencies, EWG's tap water database relies on the most reliable recent scientific findings. This means that when you analyze tap water quality by ZIP code, you don't find results tainted by political and economic compromises. Instead, you are fully aware of how the level of contaminants present can (and does) affect your health. The listed outcomes are particularly relevant for vulnerable members of the population, especially infants, children, and pregnant women.

Additionally, EWG's tap water database will show which water contaminants have been detected at levels that exceed established health guidelines. This is where the tool focuses its report, but with a single click you can easily access a list of other contaminants present in your drinking water. Additional information on each water contaminant, as well as an analysis of its most common sources, is also readily available.

(Video) How to use EWG's Tap Water Database to find out what's in your drinking water

What findings can I expect from the Environmental Working Group's tap water database?

In a word, the findings reported in the Environmental Water Group's drinking water database areshocking. Nearly 50,000 individual water utilities in all 50 states were captured in the database compilation.

The drinking water used daily by some 280 million US citizens contains dozens of water contaminants. In fact, more than 250 water contaminants were discovered in their surveys, which were conducted over a five-year period. Many have been found at levels that meet legal standards, but, as mentioned above, have been scientifically shown to have a high probability of causing health problems.

What's really scary is that 160 of these water contaminants have no legal limitations imposed.

81% of utilities included in the investigation were found to contain known carcinogens. One of these,hexavalent chromium(also known as the “Erin Brockovich chemical”), is estimated to be present in the drinking water consumed by 250 million US citizens. That's 77% of the population exposed to a chemical known to cause cancer, attacking the respiratory system, liver, kidneys, skin, and eyes.

Nitrate, a chemical used in many fertilizers, is suspected of causing birth defects when consumed at unsafe levels during pregnancy. "Blue baby syndrome," a lack of oxygen to the brains of babies, has also been linked to exposure tonitrate in drinking water. The compound also increases the risk of diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer. 7 million US citizens are still exposed to nitrate in drinking water. The quality of drinking water from 19,000 utilities is compromised by lead levels high enough to be considered harmful to children.

If you want to know what chemicals are in your water, go to EWG's tap water database and test tap water quality by zip code.

The introduction of the Environmental Working Group's tap water database comes at a time when concerns aboutConcern over contaminated drinking water has been at an all-time high for fifteen years.

The State of America's Drinking Water: What is the Environmental Working Group's Drinking Water Database?

As mentioned above, 77% of the US population is exposed to hexavalent chromium every day. 7 million also consume tap water that contains nitrate, and lead is estimated to compromise the quality of 38% of drinking water in the United States. These are just three of the 267 chemicals reported on by the Environmental Water Group's tap water database.

93 water contaminants were flagged as carcinogenic. 78 are associated with damage to the brain and nervous system. 63 of the pollutants are known to harm the developmental stages of children and fetuses. 38 of them are related to fertility problems and 45 cause hormonal changes.

More than 160 of these chemicals still have no legal limitations. The drinking water quality of more than 8 million US citizens in 27 states has high levels of 1,4-dioxane, an unregulated carcinogen.1,4-dioxanoit is an unwanted by-product in the production of consumer goods and can certainly be eliminated.

(Video) This website shows what contaminants/toxins/chemicals are in your drinking water

OEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA)has not updated its list of regulated drinking water contaminants in more than two decades.

This makes tools like the EWG Tap Water Database even more valuable for gaining a true understanding of the true quality of your drinking water. As US citizens, we all have the right to know exactly what we are putting into our bodies when we drink a glass of water and what effect it might have on our health.

Unanswered Questions from the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database

Unfortunately, there are still a number of unanswered questions. Water utilities are required by law to treat water in accordance with state and federal standards and to provide annual reports. But these reports do not address many important issues related to the quality of drinking water.

How do the chemicals that pollute our water get there in the first place? What are the safe levels for these water contaminants, specifically for babies, pregnant women, people with health problems? Certainly, there are chemicals present in municipal water that do not need to be regulated, but what are they? More importantly, why is there a focus on keeping water treatment costs as low as possible, rather than protecting the public?

The EWG Tap Water database is designed to help answer most of these questions. When you use the database to test tap water quality by zip code, you're arming yourself with information. Information that has been hidden from you or to which access is difficult. You are empowering yourself and your family to make a change. Once the public knows the truth, we can set things in motion to improve regulation and infrastructure for public services (including treatment facilities). You can see the evidence for this in our two articles, What isGenX: everything you need to knowmiGenX Chemicals: Another Look at GenX in North Carolina Water.

One of the most alarming trends found while developing EWG's tap water database is that the quality of drinking water fluctuates wildly not only depending on the source of the water, but also depending on the average income levels of the community. For example, the East Los Angeles Water District has amedian family income20% below the national average. 14 water contaminants were found in the area above health guidelines. By contrast, Merrick, New York has amedian family incomemore than 250% of the national average, and only one water contaminant (hexavalent chromium) was discovered in health guidelines.

Why is there a difference between the legal limit and the sanitary guideline for drinking water?

Simply put, there are different criteria for determining any limit. EITHERCalifornia Office of Environmental Health Hazard AssessmentThe OEHHA determines that a compound is carcinogenic based on a risk of one in a million. This criterion is based on toxicological tests and has been accepted as a health guide for limitations.

The legal limit, on the other hand, is based on themaximum contaminant level(MCL) determined by the EPA. These limits are based on political negotiations that take into account the health directive, along with the cost of water treatment and pollution source regulations.

While the health guideline can be considered the ideal limitation, the legal limit is essentially a compromise between ideal standards and what is determined to be the practical standard.

Are all water contaminants listed in the EWG Tap Water database?

Compiled from 28 million water records from nearly 50,000 individual utilities, Environmental Water Group's piped water database would be expected to be comprehensive. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

(Video) What's in Your Water? Should You Still Drink it? Answers from a Pediatrician

Since EWG's tap water database is largely derived from municipal measurements, some chemicals are not included. Municipal utilities are only required to test certain chemicals, and their reports will not include those for which they are not testing.

Generation X, which has been the subject ofheavy media coverage in North Carolinain recent months, is not listed.

Also, the database will not be able to provide an accurate measurement if you purchase water from a private well. Again, this is because the EWG Tap Water database is largely based on municipal reports, which do not include private wells. In fact, there is no requirement to test the quality of drinking water when it comes from private wells.

EWG's tap water database is able to provide better information on tap water quality by ZIP code than is currently available anywhere else. But it's important to recognize that this is not yet an exhaustive resource for discovering the true quality of your drinking water. There are still chemicals in the water that you don't know about. EWG's tap water database is a big step in the right direction to increase public awareness, but it's not the last.

What can I do to improve the quality of my drinking water according to the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database?

It can take years for any chemical to be properly regulated. And as we discussed in the section on the difference between the legal limit and the health guidelines, even when the regulations are implemented, they are not ideal.

So what can you do to improve the quality of your drinking water?

The first step to improve the quality of drinking water is to know the quality conditions of tap water by the CEP. The Environmental Water Group's tap water database is the best starting point for this step.

Next you need to find a filtration system that will purify your water, preferably onewhole house water filter.

osmosis inversait is now considered the best line of defense every family has against rising levels of water contamination.

In basic terms, reverse osmosis works at the molecular level, using a selective membrane designed to allow only incredibly small water molecules to pass through. High pressure water is used to force water through this membrane, and as a result, almost all contaminants are filtered out.

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You can read more about reverse osmosis in our article,Reverse Osmosis Water Purification: Everything You Need To Know.

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Whitney is a water filtration blogger with over 10 years of experience in the field of water treatment. She started in the Premiere sales office many years ago, and her interest and technical knowledge of water filters has grown steadily. She currently runs customer service and product technical support, and even helps develop new water filtration products. She completed her Masters and MBA in Media Communication at Regents University London. Whitney is on a mission to help people easily understand and learn about water filtration.

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