Have you ever wondered if it is safe for children to drink tap water? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, ” Drinking water in the United States is among the safest in the world.” Unlike bottled water, which is only regulated as a food by the Food and Drug Administration, tap water from public water agencies is required to follow constant, stringent, mandatory testing from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) at much higher standards. Public water agencies are also required to report contaminants found in tap water and make it available to the public.
If you are concerned about the safety of the tap water that comes out of your faucet, visit the website for your water agency and download their consumer confidence report, also called water quality report. The US Safe Drinking Water Act requires that all public agencies produce a report annually on the levels of contaminants found in their water supply. This report will show all contaminants that may be present in your drinking water. The report will contain what the determined safe level of the contaminant is, what levels of contaminants your specific water contains and whether any of the contaminants have violated higher levels than allowable. Remember that contaminants are not harmful when levels are less than the allowable amounts and some are beneficial.
If you are looking for additional safeguards, a refrigerator filter or water carafe with a disposable filter may be an option in your home, however purchasing bottled water for your child is not necessarily a safe alternative to tap water. Bottled water in plastic containers is less regulated than tap water, plastic has been known to contain carcinogens and the carbon footprint resulting from bottled water waste continues to rise.
Is Fluoride in Drinking Water Safe?
Fluoridation of drinking water has been proven to reduce tooth decay, by strengthening tooth enamel. The American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recognized fluoridation in drinking water as a safe and effective way to reduce decay. Fluoride is a mineral that can be found naturally in most any water source organically. There have been no scientifically proven studies demonstrating that fluoride is harmful to children or adults. In fact, since fluoridation has been added to drinking water, the American Dental Association agrees that the levels of fluoride in our tap water is effective in reducing tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults.
Tap Water Regulations in California
While all states must comply with water quality standards set by the US EPA, in California public water agencies are also given Public Health Goals, as well as regulations set by the California State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water. These regulations limit the amount of contaminants found in water that is provided by public water agencies. Even with regulations, drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants, however the presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk.
What is a Public Health Goal?
The Public Health Goal or PHG is level of a specific contaminant found in drinking water below, which there is no known or expected risk to health. Public Heath Goals are set by the California Environmental Protection Agency. Not all states have PHGs, however California does. These health goals are not enforceable and are only a guideline, not a requirement.
When a public health goal has not be established for a particular contaminant (also called constituent), water suppliers are to use the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals adopted by the US EPA in place of the PHG for that constituent. MCLGs are the federal equivalent to PHGs.
What does Maximum Contaminant Level mean?
Maximum Contaminant Level or MCL is the highest level of a specific contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. Primary MCLs are set as close to the PHGs as is economically and technologically feasible. Secondary MCLs are set to protect the odor, taste, and appearance of drinking water. The main priority always being health safety.