America’s Water Crisis
We sampled tap water across the US – and found arsenic, lead and toxic chemicals
A nine-month investigation by the Guardian and Consumer Reports found alarming levels of forever chemicals, arsenic and lead in samples taken across the US
In Connecticut, a condo had lead in its drinking water at levels more than double what the federal government deems acceptable. At a church in North Carolina, the water was contaminated with extremely high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals (a group of compounds found in hundreds of household products). The water flowing into a Texas home had both – and concerning amounts of arsenic too.
All three were among locations that had water tested as part of a nine-month investigation by Consumer Reports (CR) and the Guardian into the US’s drinking water.
Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, access to safe water for all Americans has been a US government goal. Yet millions of people continue to face serious water quality problems because of contamination, deteriorating infrastructure, and inadequate treatment at water plants.
CR and the Guardian selected 120 people from around the US, out of a pool of more than 6,000 volunteers, to test for arsenic, lead, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), and other contaminants. The samples came from water systems that together service more than 19 million people.
A total of 118 of the 120 samples had concerning levels of PFAS or arsenic above CR’s recommended maximum, or detectable amounts of lead. Testing of the samples showed:
- More than 35% of the samples had PFAS, potentially toxic “forever chemicals”, at levels above CR’s recommended maximum.
- About 8% of samples had arsenic, at levels above CR’s recommended maximum.
- In total, 118 out of 120 samples had detectable levels of lead.