The most fundamental element to human life is increasingly becoming tainted by industrial run-off, and–guess what–state governments are dropping the ball when it comes to data pertaining to contamination in their local drinking water.
According a new report picked by The Washington Post, Environmental Protection Agency audits reveal that many states are failing to accurately note health violations such as elevated levels of arsenic and chlorine in drinking water.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reviewed EPA audits of 43 states, including Virginia and Maryland, conducted between 2007 and 2009. In 2009, 84 percent of monitoring violations noted by states were not reported to the EPA. That same year, 26 percent of health violations were not reported or were inaccurately reported, undermining the reliability of data collected by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act as well as its ability to conduct oversight, according to the GAO.
Even though our water supplies are tainted, GAO states that we have the safest drinking water in the world. That’s scary considering that we still have have cases of water-borne illnesses popping up regularly. The consistent and widespread use of chlorine to disinfect water, for example, raises the likelihood of cancer in humans if one drinks it consistently in her water.
Industrial farming waste and run-off, as detailed in the groundbreaking report by EWG, is contributing to the rise in nitrates from fertilizer and septic tanks in drinking water. This is particularly harmful to infants, who if exposed to nitrates can develop “blue baby” syndrome.
Congressional cuts have re-prioritized the EPA’s effort to collect data on states, making sure that they comply with the federally mandated Safe Drinking Water Act. House Republicans put forth a 134 million dollar cut from the EPA-managed Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which was part of the government shut-down deal in a few months ago.
The report concluded that the EPA “needs complete and accurate data” to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water and protect public health. The GAO recommended that the EPA resume data collection, discontinued in 2009, that reveals whether health violations are accurately reported by state.