Changing Minds About What Is Deemed Safe And What Is Actually Safe Met With Resilience
Most of us just assume that if the water is supplied to our homes from some municipality that it must be safe for consumption. After all, no governing agency would allow us to partake in drinking water that wasn’t safe, or that could pose a potential health problem, would they? The answer may surprise you. It isn’t that the parties that govern safe water are intentionally misleading us down the road to illness and disease, it is just that they are not required by law to really test for the things in drinking water which pose the most health concern for the citizens that the water is supplying. Many of the things that are in our drinking water are not only not reported, they are completely lethal, but legal.
There are only 91 contaminants currently that are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act which is the guide book for what can and cannot be contained in safe drinking water. The problem is that there are well over 60,000 chemicals that are in our environment according to the latest report by the Environmental Protection Agency. Thousands of those contaminants have been scientifically studied and showed evidence of carcinogenic effects. There are trace amounts in our drinking water, yet nothing has been done to weed them out of our water sources.
Since 2000 not a single contaminant has been added to the list of those flagged chemicals by Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, many of the chemicals which are on the list have a lower threshold for health than is being reported. Although updated in the 1980s, no significant changes have been made to the act since its inception in 1974. It is estimated that over 62 million Americans have been exposed to contaminants in their drinking water which is unsafe, according to the guidelines that have been set forth to protect people from serious disease and cancer. There are cases when people have unwittingly been exposed to harmful substances without their awareness for years to decades.
Because there has been no addendum’s added to the law, those who have been exposed have been so completely legally. Many of the administrators who saw what was going on, and cared for the safety of the public, tried to step in and go above the guidelines as outlined. They were not met with a welcomed response, rather fought at every turn.Those in opposition you would think were bureaucrats, but in many cases it was the residents themselves who declined the stricter enforcements.
There have been several instances where, being concerned for citizen’s safety there have been measures taken to make drinking water more safe, but it has been met with resistance. Dr. Pankaj Parekh the director of water quality division with Los Angeles found that the water in the reservoirs in the jurisdiction that he was responsible for became carcinogenic when exposed to sunlight. He answered by covering it with black plastic balls to prevent the heating of the water under direct sunlight. The complaints began flooding in, and after so much turmoil that it was becoming disruptive, the balls were demanded to be removed.
The problem with change that is made at the administrative level is that when it is implemented it creates change in the way that things are done. No one likes change. When there is the presumption that water is safe for drinking if it is delivered to your home, any further steps are considered unnecessary and inconvenient no matter how many arguments are posed, or explanations given.
Those who fight to protect the current guidelines do so under the guise that any further regulation is a regulatory burden to what is now in place. They insist that many of the contaminants, which are in the water, are not unsafe unless exposure is for many years and in high concentrations. If to date those concentrations are not found in the water that is regulated, they see no reason to make any rash altercations to the system. There is also opposition that maintains that to extrapolate studies on animals to the human population is a reach and something that is not reliable enough to cause the economic cost of changing legislation and overriding the original Water Safety Drinking Act.
The debate will likely continue well into the future. The biggest hurdle is going to be to find a happy medium between using studies that are proven, and relative to the public at large, which doesn’t feel more like a witch hunt. With many being weary of American environmental alarmists, it is hard to change minds, especially when change will effect them personally.