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The Guardian, Consumer Reports, and America’s water

Summary:
The Guardian has teamed up with Consumer Reports to have a look at America’s water supply. They say that the results are terrible. We would urge a little consideration of the details of what they’re saying: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

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The Guardian has teamed up with Consumer Reports to have a look at America’s water supply. They say that the results are terrible. We would urge a little consideration of the details of what they’re saying:

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.

Umm, wait a minute. Above CR’s recommended limit? Yes:

In the early 2000s, the EPA considered a drinking water limit for arsenic of 3 ppb, before settling on 10 ppb as an amount that balances the costs for water system operators while reducing health risks. CR scientists have long said the EPA should set a limit of 3 ppb or lower, in line with what other health experts and environmental advocacy groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), have called for.

CR invents a limit of less than a third of what the government does then claims that water supplies exceed the invented limit. The same is largely true of their findings about lead.

It’s entirely possible that As and Pb levels in drinking water should, righteously, be lower than what they currently are. But that is the case that needs to be made, proven. Rather than just the creation out of thin air of some number and then the claim that it’s not being met.

This is, as with so much of the environmental scaremongering of our day, an attempt to pervert the measurement of pollution in what is, after all, one of the cleanest human societies that has ever existed.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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