Tap Water – Quality In Question!

Why Are There Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in My Tap Water Despite Municipal Water Treatment?

If you live in a city or town and get your water from a municipal water treatment system, you may assume that your tap water is safe to drink and use. However, you may have heard or read information that suggests otherwise. Why is that? In this article, we will explain why there may be chemicals and pharmaceuticals in your tap water despite municipal water treatment and what you can do to reduce the potential health risks.



In recent years, a growing concern among consumers worldwide has been the deteriorating condition of drinking water. This apprehension is fueled by a variety of factors, including inadequate municipal water treatment systems, an increasing presence of chemicals and pharmaceuticals in tap water, and the potential health risks associated with these contaminants. Additionally, many consumers are unsure about the legal and regulatory framework that governs the quality of tap water, leading to further anxiety. The objective of this document is to provide a comprehensive exploration of these issues, and to provide practical suggestions on how individuals can mitigate their exposure to contaminants in tap water.


  1. Municipal Water Treatment Systems
  2. Limitations of Municipal Water Treatment
  3. Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in Tap Water
  4. Health Risks of Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in Tap Water
  5. Legal and Regulatory Framework for Tap Water
  6. What Can You Do to Reduce Your Exposure to Tap Water Contaminants?
  7. Canadian Drinking Water Standards
  8. Comparing Standards
  9. Sources of Chemical Pollution
  10. Point-of-Use Filtration
  11. Conclusion

Each section in this document is designed to provide insight into the multifaceted aspects of drinking water safety, starting with a broad overview of municipal water treatment systems and moving into a detailed exploration of the specific challenges associated with ensuring the quality of tap water. We’ll discuss potential sources of chemical pollution, the health risks associated with these contaminants, and the standards and regulations currently in place to protect consumers. We’ll also offer strategies for reducing your exposure to these contaminants, including an analysis of point-of-use filtration options. Finally, we’ll conclude with a reflection on the importance of individual and collective actions in securing the safety and quality of our drinking water.

Municipal Water Treatment Systems

Here, we will explain what municipal water treatment systems are, how they work, and what kind of contaminants they are designed to remove from the water. We will also cover some of the common treatment methods and technologies used, such as sedimentation, filtration, disinfection, and chemical treatment.

Drinking water treatment systems are designed and tested as capable to remove bacterial contaminants. But does this actually mean that they are rendering the water healthy to drink? These systems are not foolproof and can sometimes fail to remove sufficient levels of the contaminants, particularly those that are not yet regulated. Water treatment plants add a variety of chemicals aiming to destroy bacteria and viruses, and to bring an acceptable level of clarity to the water. They are not intended to be effective at eliminating all types of parasites or many of the chemicals of concern.

municipal water treatment plant water storage tanks

Limitations of Municipal Water Treatment

Despite the efforts of municipal water treatment systems to provide clean and safe drinking water, there are some limitations and challenges they face. In this section, we will explain some of the reasons why contaminants may still be present in tap water, such as:

  • Aging infrastructure and pipes that may leach lead, copper, or other metals into the water
  • Industrial and agricultural activities that may release chemicals and pollutants into the environment
  • Natural sources of contamination, such as algae, bacteria, and viruses
  • Disinfection byproducts that may form when chlorine or other chemicals react with organic matter in the water

Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in Tap Water

In this section, we can focus on the specific types of chemicals and pharmaceuticals that may be found in tap water and how they may enter the water supply. Some examples may include:

  • Pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture and landscaping
  • Industrial chemicals and solvents used in manufacturing and mining
  • Personal care products, such as shampoo, soap, and cosmetics, that are washed down the drain
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are excreted by humans and animals and not fully removed by wastewater treatment plants
  • Hormones and endocrine disruptors that can affect reproductive and developmental health

Health Risks of Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals in Tap Water

In this section, you can discuss the potential health risks associated with exposure to these contaminants, based on scientific studies and reports. You can also mention some of the possible symptoms or effects of short-term and long-term exposure, such as:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Skin rashes, allergies, and irritations
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Cancer, especially bladder and colon cancer
  • Hormonal imbalances and reproductive disorders

Legal and Regulatory Framework for Tap Water

Here, you can explain how tap water is regulated and monitored by federal and state agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). You can also mention some of the standards and guidelines for different contaminants and how they are enforced.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Exposure to Tap Water Contaminants?

In this section, you can provide some practical tips and advice for consumers who want to reduce their exposure to tap water contaminants. Some examples may include:

  • Using a certified water filter or treatment device that can remove specific contaminants
  • Drinking bottled water that has been tested and meets certain standards
  • Boiling or distilling tap water to remove impurities
  • Avoiding or reducing the use of certain products that may contribute to water pollution

The quality of tap water is a concern even in countries such as Canada and the US where there are ongoing concerns about the safety of drinking tap water. Even though these countries have established drinking water standards, many citizens still question whether these guidelines are sufficient to protect our health. We can examine the Canadian drinking water standards and compare them to those in the USA and Mexico. We can also explore the negative health effects that these standards may allow.

Canadian Drinking Water Standards

Canadian drinking water guidelines, set by Health Canada, establish the guidelines for the quality of drinking water here. The guidelines include limits for various contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical substances. However, medical research is forever adding new information and producing updated findings. So, while these guidelines are intended to protect us against the ill health effects of these contaminates, they do not always demonstrate the latest research.

Comparing Standards:

Compared to the drinking water standards in the USA and Mexico, Canadian guidelines are relatively similar in many respects. Nonetheless, there are some notable variations in described acceptable levels between the three countries. The variance between the allowable level of lead in Canadian drinking water ( 0.005 mg/L) and the limit in the USA, (0.015 mg/L.) seems small. But this variation can be critical to our health. Lead for instance, in such seemingly small quantities can be harmful to human health, particularly in children.

Sources of Chemical Pollution:

drawing of town on hillside with water from lake to town and back to lake

Because of chemical pollution, assessing water sources is a principal concern when it comes to drinking water safety. Three common sources of chemical pollution in source water are agricultural runoff, industrial discharge, and pharmaceuticals. These contaminants can enter water sources through a variety of routes, including from agricultural fields, factories, and hospitals. Unfortunately these constituents often go undetected and even after being identified as undesirable, they remain difficult to remove and often pose a threat to human health.

Treatment Systems:

95% or more of the water treated and produced by municipal water treatment systems goes out onto the garden, the carwash, the laundry and for industrial useage. the municipality cannot afford to produce the quality of water that many of us desire. Not when so much will be wasted. It is left up to the end user to decide on their water, their health and their quality of life.

Point-of-Use Filtration:

purified water, distilled water, reverse osmosis water

Given the limited objectives of municipal water treatment systems, it’s important for individuals to take steps to protect themselves and their families from potential contaminants. There are two competitive technologies that can be depended on to deliver safe, purified water. Reverse Osmosis and Distillation. These systems are relatively inexpensive, readily available in most countries, and can be installed easily in homes, offices, and even mobile requirements such as RV’s or marine craft.


In conclusion, while drinking water standards are designed to protect public health, they are guidelines, not laws, and may not always be reflected by water treatment applications. When comparing Canadian standards to those in the USA and Mexico, there are some notable differences that suggest a need for more rigorous regulations and enforcement. The total of all the pollutants, when added together, are a major concern and individuals should take steps to protect themselves. Point-of-use water filtration systems are the most dependable method to accomplish this.

For more information regarding Reverse Osmosis Technology: Treated Water Reverse Osmosis Information & Specifications & Pricing - for Treated Water

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For more information regarding Reverse Osmosis Technology: Un-Treated Water Reverse Osmosis Information & Specifications & Pricing - for un-treated water

For more information regarding Water Distillation: Treated & Un-treated Water Water Distillers Information & Specifications

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