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Millions of Americans Drink Dirty Water


December 22 – More than 49 million Americans have been exposed to tap water from public water treatment systems that contained illegal concentrtions of chemicals such as arsenic and uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage, "The New York Times" reported last week.

The report was based on analysis of millions of federal regulatory records from water systems and regulators across the U.S.

That anaylsis showed that more than 20% of the nation's 54,700 water systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act in the last five years. That law requires communitites to deliver safe tap water to residents.

Although regulators were informed of these violations as they occurred, "The Times" stated, regulatory records show that fewer than 6% of the water systems were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials.

"Many of these violations were one-time events" and "probably posed little risk," stated "The Times." Others, however were persistent violations that occurred for years. Studies have indicated that drinking water contaminates are linked to millions of instances of illness in the U.S. each year, ranging from mild to serious.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce a new policy for how it regulates the nation's water systems.

The article is one in a series on polluion in America's water and what's being done about it. Read "The New York Times" article here.