We’re here to reveal the 5 Most Common Myths About Water Quality.
This post may be shocking. (70% of our readers say it is.)
First, a 6th myth that didn’t make our list: Myth: “The government agencies and powers that be can handle water quality monitoring, and there’s nothing for me to do.”
Fact: The President’s Council on Science and Technology, plus many other institutions, have all called for an increase in “citizen science” and hyperlocal data monitoring to ensure the safety of our local water supplies.
Translation: we need everyday citizens to get involved to predict and prevent water-related crises.
Citizen involvement may not sound important until you realize how widespread the crisis is. Most Americans remember seeing headlines about contaminated water in Flint, MI when the story broke in 2015–2016. But what most don’t know is a fact I shared in my TED talk: there are actually 3,810 locations in the United States with MORE lead in their water than Flint, Michigan. In fact, 71% of Americans (that’s 233 million of us!) have some form of contamination in their water — but most of us have no idea.
What’s worse, according to the United Nations, by 2030 there will be a 40% greater demand for clean water than there is supply on this planet for the first time in human history. Clearly, to avoid an unthinkable future, we need more hands on deck today — from everyday citizens, not just experts — to solve the problem.
It used to be difficult for the average citizen to get involved in improving water quality conditions. Even if you cared deeply about the issue, where would you start? That’s why Aquagenuity (“where water meets ingenuity”) was born — so that average citizens can access water quality data and help create the future of water without having a degree in chemistry or environmental engineering.
The team at Aquagenuity recently launched the Lead Test Challenge to get everyday consumers to test their homes for lead in the water and lead pipes. Aquagenuity has developed the world’s first real-time lead monitoring software, which will alert consumers to changes in lead levels without them having to manually test their water or install sensors. We need to train the machine learning software to predict and report lead levels accurately, and that’s where consumers come in. By taking 10 minutes to check their own pipes and filling out quick questionnaire, beta testers can join the movement and help train our software.
So, every citizen counts. Get involved! After reading the Top 5 Myths About Water Quality, you’ll understand why your small action of taking the Lead Test Challenge is so important in helping us bring safer water to everyone.
(By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to complete the Lead Test Challenge for your home, click here to follow the quick steps — only takes 10 minutes!)
Without further ado, here are the 5 Myths:
Myth #5: “Water quality is being monitored all the way to my tap. ‘They’ would tell me if something were wrong.”
Fact: There is almost no monitoring of water quality in the last mile between the local treatment plant and your home’s tap.
Let’s say your city has absolutely perfect water (most cities do not, but let’s assume). The water still has to travel the last mile from your local water treatment facility to your home’s tap. The EPA or your local agency are not set up to conduct in-depth monitoring in that last mile. Yet, it is in that last mile where most water crises occur — like what we saw in Flint or Newark.
So most local agencies don’t have real-time data if there is a sudden change in water quality at the tap, which means there are not frequent notifications of sudden changes to local water quality. That’s why Aquagenuity is building simple tools — to build a future where anyone could have real-time water quality monitoring all the way to the tap.
Myth #4: “Water quality is static. It always stays the same.”
Fact: Your water quality changes about as often as the weather does.
Most people think their water quality just “is what it is.” But in fact, your water quality changes about as often as the weather does. So in that last mile between your local treatment plant and your tap, water quality varies quite a bit.
If there is heavy rain or flooding (or snowfall or a hurricane)… or dumping or construction near your home… or if you live near a factory or a superfund site or a military base… or if there’s a water main break near you, or your pipes start to age or leach over time… any of these things can cause your home’s water quality to change.
Basically, your water quality is changing MUCH more often than you think. That’s why Aquagenuity is working to create simple tools that can track these changes as frequently as they occur.
Myth #3: Water is a third world issue. The United States has the best water in the world.
Fact: Though our water quality is good compared to many other parts of the world, water contamination is impacting the majority of Americans (7 out of 10 of us).
It is true that in the western world, we started using modernized water infrastructure in the 1920s and 30s, which means we typically don’t perish INSTANTLY from our drinking water.
However, we’re still being exposed to toxins that can negatively impact our health over time. The EPA regulates approximately 120 toxins. However, the U.S. water supply is known to contain 120,000 toxins, some of which are known to be carcinogenic or harmful to health over the long-term. Plus our infrastructure is now about 100 years old, and has received a D-rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
With traditional tools, there’s no easy way to know what you’re being exposed in your local water. That’s why Aquagenuity is building new tools to give every family peace of mind that their water is safe.
MYTH #2: “If something happens to my local water quality, all I have to do is boil my water and I’m fine.”
FACT: Boiling your water will not eliminate many toxins that may be in your water, and in the case of heavy metals, boiling makes it worse.
You are probably familiar with the “boil water” advisories that come from local water agencies when things go awry. And boiling water typically does ensure that no bacteria is present in the water (according to the World Health Organization, boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa). However, boiling does not make the tap water pure.
Other contaminants that may be present, such as heavy metals like lead, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, insecticides, and other inorganics are not removed through boiling water. In fact, when boiling tap water, you are often increasing the density of these non-organic contaminants.
That’s why Aquagenuity is building better tools for monitoring all types of toxins that may be impacting your water quality monitoring at the tap.
And the #1 Most Common Myth about Water Quality:
MYTH #1: “I only drink bottled water. So I’m good.”
FACT: Bottled water is not sufficient for eliminating your exposure to potential toxins.
Here’s a fact to consider: 64% of bottled water is just tap water, bottled from a municipal source (source: Consumer Reports). Whatever’s in your local water supply may be in your bottled water as well.
So there’s that.
Secondly, the production of bottled water causes significant environmental problems, including taking water from communities that depend on it, polluting the environment, contributing to global warming and creating billions of empty bottles that end up as waste, contributing to the plastic problem in our oceans.
And if that weren’t enough, consider the fact that even if you don’t drink from you tap, you still take baths and showers. So since your skin is your largest organ, every time you take a shower, you’re basically opening up your pores with the steam and then letting in whatever toxins happen to be in your water.
Bottled water can’t fix that.
Aquagenuity is working to build a future where the water coming out of our taps is as safe as possible for all of us.
Whew! We’ve covered a lot on this journey.
The Conclusion: we need better tools to monitor our water quality in real-time. And to build those tools, we need your help.
So do your part by taking 10 minutes to take the Lead Test Challenge in your home. When you do, you’ll be helping make water safer for us all.
Doll Avant & The Aquagenuity Team
-Made with ❤️in ATL