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How The United States Tap Water Contamination Effects Black & Brown People In America


A recent study by the US Geological Survey reveals a concerning reality that nearly 45% of tap water in the United States is tainted with "forever chemicals" known as per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances. This contamination could even be more widespread, as the study only examined 32 out of over 12,000 PFAS compounds which pose severe health risks, including cancer, obesity, thyroid disease, and liver damage, as per the US Environmental Protection Agency.

While PFAS exposure's health effects can be challenging to pinpoint due to various exposure methods and types of PFAS, it's crucial for individuals to grasp their exposure risk through tap water. Some water filters can help mitigate contamination, and there are efforts to regulate PFAS in US drinking water. However, the problem is widespread, with contamination especially prevalent near urban areas and locations where PFAS are used in manufacturing or waste disposal.

Addressing this issue is imperative, as PFAS are found in everyday items and have infiltrated various aspects of our lives. Though the scale of the problem is daunting, it's essential to find innovative ways to filter PFAS from our water sources, given the significant health consequences they carry.

Most importantly, the ramifications of tainted water in Black and Brown communities have been problematic for quite some time. A 2021 survey published by SOURCE Global PBC revealed a serious racial disparity in Americans' trust in the quality of their domestic water supply. EPA data from 2016-2019 reveals that these water systems are 40% more likely to serve people of color, and they take longer to comply with regulations in communities of color. A survey by SOURCE Global PBC shows that 43% of white Americans are "very confident" in their tap water, compared to only 24% of Black Americans and 19% of Hispanic Americans.

During the pandemic, bottled water consumption rose significantly, especially among people of color. A quarter of Black Americans increased their bottled water consumption, while only 10% of white Americans changed their habits. Moreover, 55% of Black Americans and 44% of Hispanic Americans now exclusively drink bottled water at home, while 28% of white Americans still consume unfiltered tap water.

The consequences of this inequality extend beyond water access, affecting trust in public services, as seen in the Flint water crisis and Jackson, Mississippi. A two-tiered system for clean water access has far-reaching implications for health, the economy, and human rights, emphasizing the need for equitable solutions. According to Cody Friesen, founder and CEO of SOURCE Global, "Safe water is a fundamental human right, not a matter of where you live or the color of your skin."

Link: CNN


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