Cancer-causing chemical contaminates public drinking water in New York, New Jersey

(WPIX) -- A searchable database released today by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization, shows that virtually every drinking water system is contaminated with chemicals.

In New York and New Jersey, public water systems are polluted with chemicals linked to cancer and child development problems, such as PFOA.

"It's known as perfluorooctanoic acid. It's found in a large number of systems in New Jersey and across the country," confirmed Dr. David Andrews, a senior scientist for EWG.

He stated that PFOA is currently not regulated on a federal level, which means public utilities do not need to notify consumers if it's found in their drinking water.

"It is really concerning for consumers," stated Dr. Andrews.

Arsenic, hexavalent chromium, radiation and chloroform are just a handful of the other contaminants found in local drinking water taps.

Public water utilities are required to file a document called consumer confidence reports, which details any contaminants found. But EWG's database, goes a step further by relying on what scientists say are safe levels of contaminants to be consumed in drinking water.

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What is legal is a different story, said Dr. Andrews.

"What is legal incorporates economic, political considerations. Lobbyists get involved. It's really a trade-off of balancing the potential health impacts with these other factors," he said, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency's safe drinking water regulations are currently decades behind what science has proven to be safe or unsafe chemicals to consume.

"What we've presented here is a clear display of the level of these contaminants, what the legal limit is and what a health guideline value is. What is the safe value when you're only looking at potential health impacts?"

EWG is also urging consumers to use a drinking water filter. They're also pressing the E.P.A. to update their rules on chemical contaminants found in drinking water.

It's been 20 years since the EPA last passed any new drinking water regulations.

The Trump administration recently proposed repealing a rule that gives the agency broad authority to regulate water pollution.

The EPA is taking public comments before making a final decision.

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