Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the subsequent elevation in the use of industrial chemicals, there have been a multitude of corporations leaking these chemicals into public water supply. As early as 1952, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was leaking hexavalent chromium into the ground water, and eventually the tap water, of the Mojave Desert region (Layton, pgr. 12). With dangers being presented from drinking water out of the tap, many have turned to home water filtration which are only reliable for removing some bacteria (Keating pgr. 4). There is a clear case to be made from this evidence. The US needs a solution to clean drinking water, immediately.
In the mid-90s a legal battle ensued between PG&E and legal activist, Erin Brokovich. The case was based on evidence Brokovich had gathered, showing the company’s record of leaking a significant amount of Hexevalent Chromium into the ground water below Hinkley, CA. Hexevalent Chromium is a known carcinogen, the detection of which can be technical and arduous. These events were concluded in 1996 when, “the company paid $333 million in damages… and pledged to clean up the contamination” (Layton, pgr. 12). Currently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fighting a similar issue.
Lindsey Layton published an article in the Washington Post, “EPA urges testing for chemical in tap water.” Discussed in her article are the issues that face such testing, such as the need for a budget increase to the EPA. Generating this need is the laboratory equipment required in the difficult process that tests for Hexevalent Chromium. In a quote from George Hawkins, the General Manager of D.C. Water, said that any guidance were given from the EPA would be followed. Additionally, he stated, “If additional testing needs to be taken to make sure that what we’re doing is protective of public health, that’s what we’ll do,” (Layton pgr. 3,4). Currently there is no federal limit on the amount of this chemical that can be in public water (Layton pgr. 6). With no way of removing these chemicals, currently found in government run facilities, or available for purchase on the commercial market, it is difficult to understand why so little is being done (Keating pgr. 5).
There is additional information, not discussed here due to its substantial amount, that shows everything from pharmaceuticals to Hexevalent Chromium can be found in the water we drink. The most each person can do is write their appropriate congressman and be aware of the filtration system they are buying, as there are some that can remove more of these chemicals than others. It is also important to raise awareness of this issue, since the nature of these changes require both time and money.
Layton, Lyndsey. “EPA urges testing for chemical in tap water.”Washington Post 23 Dec. 2010: A04. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
Keating, Michael “Public told to beware when buying water filters.” Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 30 July 1986: A13. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.