I recently came across some very interesting facts about our drinking water. The information came from the Environmental Works Group (EWG) and can be found at ewg.org. Just enter the name of your drinking water supplier and follow the online directions. In this column I will try to condense some of that information for you.

Pa-American Water Brownsville, Authority of Boro of Charleroi, Dunkard Valley Joint Municipal Authority, Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority, Tri County Joint Municipal Authority and Carmichaels each had the following chemicals in common: bromodichloromethane, chloroform, dibromochloromethane and total trihalomethane.

Don’t let the names confuse you. The thing to know is all of these are associated with cancer. However, these tests were conducted from 2011 to 2017. So look at the web site to see how many times the water was over the health standards and when the violation happened.

Some of the water companies (Tri County and Carmichaels) showed radiological of Radium 226 and 228, but were below dangerous levels.

Tri County showed bromoform. This is understandable since both the Clyde and Dilworth mines are putting high amounts of bromide into the river from their discharges. One must also remember that there is no current standard for bromide being released into our water supplies.

Dichloroacetic acid was found in Charleroi, Dunkard Valley and Southwestern Pa. Water. All three also exhibited levels of trichloroacetic acid.

There has been a lot of talk lately about lead. The following companies showed lead contamination, but all were below EPA standards for drinking water: Charleroi 3.5 parts per billion (ppb), Southwestern at 0.4 ppb and Brownsville at 2 ppb.

Some researchers say the level of lead should be zero since babies do not have the capacity to handle lead in their systems. However, again, go to the web site for better coverage of the water supplies and standards.

A lot of these chemicals are not required to be tested for by the water suppliers. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and EPA must review these standards and adjust them to the modern drilling industry techniques.

There are four ways in which these chemicals can enter our water. They can come from the treatment process itself, from agriculture, from industry or simply occur naturally.

With the advent of drilling, more and more chemicals are making their way into our drinking water. One big red flag is there are over 50 chemicals being used by the industry, but are not being tested for their presence. Use of these chemicals should never be permitted. We have no idea what long term effects they will have on our health. Three good examples of chemicals once believed to be safe are Agent Orange, Roundup and DDT. They aren’t safe.

To add to this problem, the use of salt is becoming more and more questioned. In the winter, tons of salt are added to our water supplies.

Recently, the House passed Bill 2154, permitting brine water from drilling to be used for dust suppression on our roadways. This could add additional salt and other chemicals to our water supplies.

It was disappointing to say the least, since our water problems in the area are well known. When will health and well-being over ride costs?

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