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Particularly if you rely on city water in Maryland, every time you take a sip or wash your clothes, you are trusting that you are only consuming things that are safe. However, there are carcinogens in drinking water that remain unregulated even though they are correlated or connected to cancer. What exactly are carcinogens, and could they be lurking in your drinking water?

What Are Carcinogens?

Carcinogens are contaminants that are associated with cases of cancer. They are not guaranteed to cause cancer in 100% of humans. Instead, they can be natural or manufactured compounds and chemicals that can cause cancer in humans. Some carcinogens are associated directly with specific types of cancer, like how asbestos is linked to a variety of lung cancer called mesothelioma. Other carcinogens do not necessarily cause a specific type of cancer, but instead increase overall risk and promote cancerous growth. Some of the most commonly found carcinogens and contaminants that lead to carcinogens in drinking water include:

  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Hazardous waste
  • Sewage

The chemical most strongly tied to cancer from the list above is arsenic. Exposure to arsenic can lead to cancer in the kidney, bladder, liver or lung. The byproducts of using chlorine to treat drinking water at treatment facilities can also lead to increased risk of bladder and rectal cancer. Some experts think that chlorination byproducts could be associated with as many as 5,000 cases of bladder cancer and 8,000 cases of rectal cancer every year.

In one study of national water in all 50 states, there were increased cancer risks directly linked to 22 carcinogens in drinking water. The carcinogens found in water that are most hazardous to our health include arsenic and many byproducts of the disinfection process. The study looked at how carcinogens in drinking water can factor into cumulative cancer risk. Instead of merely considering how exposure to one chemical in a certain amount could cause cancer, they looked at how all of the contaminants present could increase cancer risks.

When considering the cumulative impact of carcinogens on human health, it can be quite alarming. A team using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment estimated that there is a 45,300 estimated number of lifetime cancer cases due to arsenic in drinking water. When factored in with other types of exposure, it adds up to over 100,000 estimated cases of cancer solely caused by carcinogens in drinking water. This massive contribution to cumulative cancer risk is similar to the risk caused by air pollutants.

Are Carcinogens in Drinking Water in Maryland?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is yes. The Environmental Working Group has found carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals and compounds in water throughout the state. Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are carcinogens that were found in the majority of water supplies in the state of Maryland. The guideline set by the EWG is 0.15 ppb or less, but one part of Carroll County had levels at a whopping 49.3 ppb. The legal limit is 80 ppb, however, so there could be elevated and dangerous levels of chemicals that still do not touch the legal guideline.

The only way to know without a doubt what your water contains is through water testing. Atlantic Blue Water Center offers water tests that will show you a clear picture of what is in your drinking water, whether you rely on city water or use your own private well water. Many of the most hazardous contaminants might be present in amounts lower than the legal limit, and several carcinogens in drinking water are unregulated entirely.

After you get your water testing results, we will work with you to develop the right solution or combination of solutions to ensure that your water is safe to use and consume. We offer a broad range of solutions, including reverse osmosis systems and filtration devices, that can all work to make sure your family has access to clean, safe water. Unlike water treatment centers, we don’t treat water by adding chemicals into the mix. Instead, we use filtration solutions that get rid of dangerous substances and allow you to drink without worry.

Make Sure That Your Home Water Supply Is Safe to Drink with Atlantic Blue Water Center

We provide water treatment and water softening solutions for homeowners that want a cleaner water supply and water that is free from hazardous carcinogens that can contribute to increased cancer risk. We’re also focused on providing additional education on water treatment, water quality, and issues associated with water contaminants. Call us at (410) 751-9200 to schedule your in-home water testing appointment today.