Pesticides in your water can most certainly be harmful. The levels found in some test samples are much higher than what the EPA has deemed safe.

The Environmental Working Group is one of the leading consumer advocates for increased government regulations and higher standards for drinking water. In February, he tested before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The major problems he cited included:

Public treatment facilities, pipes and other infrastructure are aged in many areas-this problem allows lead to see into public supplies

Disinfectants used to protect the public from waterborne illnesses break down to form toxic cancer-causing substances

No standards have been set for known toxins such as perchlorate, an element of rocket fuel, or PFOA and PFOS, toxins found in cleaners and stain removers

Public facilities can not always afford to conduct testing or take the necessary steps to remove contaminants

The last problem mentioned is the reason that high levels of pesticides have been found flowing out of the taps of homes and businesses across the US. You may be wondering why there are pesticides in our water in the first place.

Where Do They Come From?

Agricultural runoff is the main culprit. The locations with the highest levels were those around the Corn Belt and other industrial type farms. Some of the pesticides come from individual homeowners and landscapers. Anything you spray on a lawn will eventually end up in the water supply.

Another source is local governments. They spray for illness-causing mosquitoes and the residue ends up in our freshwater. Since mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile and malaria, it is important to keep the population under control. But until safer pesticides are developed, consumers need to be aware that these chemicals protect their health in some ways, but damage it in others. Currently, there are no consumer warnings about the potential health threats.

What are the Health Threats?

The specific threat depends on the specific pesticide used. In most cases, the poison is a kind of neurotoxin. Neurotoxins damage brain cells and nerve endings. The biggest risk may be to developing embryos. Due to their mother's exposure, they may have learning disabilities or ADHD. Several recent studies made that connection.

Cancer is a possible health threat from practically any environmental toxin. The chemicals are free radicals that enter the body and cause cellular mutations. The greater a person's exposure, the greater his or her risk of developing cancer at some future point.

What about Other Toxins?

Let us not forget about the other toxins mentioned in the above. Disinfection byproducts are known to increase a person's risk of cancer. Perchlorate is known to interfere with normal glandular function. Even chlorine is a toxin. Anything that kills bacteria is a poison.

What Can We Do?

Petitioning the government to make changes is the job the EWG has undertaken. On a personal level, it is up to the individual homeowner to be informed about the toxins in the local supply and how to remove them before the family consumes them. In my next article, you will learn how a homeowner can remove toxins like pesticides.