HE TOXIC WATER crisis in Flint,
Michigan, has caused many
Americans to ask a very important
question as they thirst for the truth:
How safe is my tap water? ;e answers are
imperative to pursue—along with solutions—
if you want to safeguard your family’s health.
The pollution path
Drinking water is typically sourced from
either surface water (lakes, rivers and reser-
voirs) or groundwater (water pumped from
wells drilled into underground aquifers). ;e
tap water for nearly 300 million Americans
comes from public community water systems
(CWS). ;is H2O can contain trace levels of
substances such as cysts, bacteria, hormones,
pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and harsh
chemicals, according to the EPA and other
agencies. ;e government tests for and regu-
lates 90 of these contaminants in the CWS,
per the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)—a
federal law that doesn’t require eradication of
all 90 contaminants but establishes a standard
for the maximum levels permitted.
CWS-treated water can also become contaminated prior to hitting your faucet if it sits
idle too long or if older pipes connected to
your home contain lead that leaches into the
water. And contaminants that are ;ushed or
thrown in the garbage can end up in waterways and seep into groundwater, eventually
polluting the public water supply.
To play it safe, have your tap water tested,
especially if, per the EPA, you experience
recurrent gastrointestinal illness; have corroded or lead-soldered or -lined pipes in your
home; notice an objectionable smell, taste or
color in your water; observe stained laundry
or scaly residues; live near a dump, land;ll,
factory or drilling/industrial site; or if you use
a private well.
You can ask your municipal water supplier to test a water sample from your home
(o;en provided free or for a small fee); alternatively, you can purchase a water testing kit
from a home improvement store or enlist a
state-certi;ed lab to conduct the test for a
charge (visit tinyurl.com/testwater16 for a list).
If your test results indicate excessive contamination levels, including lead levels exceeding
15 parts per billion, contact your municipal
water supplier and demand resolution.
Costco member Marianne Metzger had
her water tested by a lab before moving into a
new Cleveland home a few years ago and was
relieved to ;nd no worrisome results.
“I recommend that homeowners test
their water for lead and other contaminants
they’re concerned about, which o;en have no
taste, odor or discoloration,” she says. “People
need to understand that, even if the public
water supply meets SDWA requirements,
they are not totally protected. ;at’s why I
opted for a faucet-mounted ;lter.”
When it comes to drinking-water safety,
it’s better to be proactive than reactive.
Fortunately, a wide variety of products can
decontaminate your home’s water or serve as
a safe substitute, including clean bottled water
that can be home-delivered; ;lter pitchers;
countertop units or small ;lters that attach
directly to your faucet; under-the-sink ;ltration systems; reverse-osmosis systems; and
whole-house ;ltration systems that deliver
filtered water to every faucet, shower and
appliance in your home. Filtration solutions
range in price from around $30 to $1,000 or
more, depending on the product. Professional
installation may also be required.
“Using a ;ltration system as a ;nal barrier
of protection is an inexpensive and easy way
to protect our families,” says Costco member
Robert Maisner, vice president of sales and
marketing for Paragon Water Systems Inc. in
;e lesson to be learned from Flint?
“A contaminated water supply can happen anywhere. It a;ects you in many ways—
not just by ingesting it. You wash your clothes
and vegetables in this water, bathe in it and
brush your teeth with it, too,” says Robert
Weitz, a Costco member and a certi;ed microbial investigator, and licensed lead inspector
with Stamford, Connecticut–based RTK
Environmental Group. “Don’t assume it can’t
happen to you.” C
Erik J. Martin is a Chicago-based writer.
Is your tap water safe?
By Erik J. Martin
Healthier drink links
Tap water safety tips
• Review the most recent Consumer
Confidence Report—describing the tested
quality of your area’s public water—by
• “If you live in a home without a lead
service line, generally flushing water for up
to 60 seconds is adequate to reduce water
lead risks,” suggests Marc A. Edwards, a
professor in the Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech.
• Choose a water filter product that’s NSF
certified to remove lead and contaminants.
• Change your filtration product’s filter
at manufacturer-recommended intervals.
• Correct home plumbing problems like
leaks, corrosion and lead-soldered or -lined
pipes (a shiny line showing after lightly
scratching a suspected pipe’s exterior with
a coin confirms lead).
JUNE 2016 ;e Costco Connection 55
The Costco Connection
Costco offers various water-treatment
systems in the warehouses and on
Costco.com. Bottled water and water
delivery services are also available.
for your health