Is U.S. Tap Water Safe?

I’ve never worried much about the safety of tap water.  I’ve always assumed it was clean and even good for my teeth. I figured the U.S. had tough standards to ensure purity.  I should have known better.  Spending summers as a kid in rural NW Arkansas, granny warned me not to drink the water from the faucet because it was dirty.  And how.  The water was rusty colored and smelled like sulfur.  The “flammable” liquid might very well have caught fire had anyone struck a match near some.  Now NW Arkansas is poultry country and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the groundwater is fortified, no, fertilized, though I have no proof other than granny’s warning.

The problem is that there are in excess of 50,000 municipal drinking water facilities in the U.S. and no two are alike. The outdated Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates a small number of chemicals that could wind up in tap water.  While there is some disagreement on the health risks to humans from exposure to trace amounts of chemicals, drinking a rocket fuel additive, a contaminant found in some drinking water in Southern California according to the New York Times, can’t be the key to longevity.  But could this be any worse than drinking Red Bull for breakfast or a couple of cans of Four Loko at a party? Is Mountain Dew a better alternative than potentially contaminated, but flouridated tap water?

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