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Due to the Safe Drinking Water Act SDWA Americas drinking water is safer than it has been in decades and of better quality than that of many other countries Accordingly many Americans believe that while people elsewhere may have reason to be concerned about getting sick from contaminated tap water we are safe Yet incidents in the United States such as the outbreak of the microorganism cryptosporidium in Milwaukees water supply in 1993 that killed more than one hundred people and sickened over 400000 and lead and pesticide contamination while not affecting most threaten the tap water of millions of Americans In truth according to Environmental Protection Agency EPA data in 1994 and 1995 45 million Americans drank water from water systems that fell short of SDWA standards1 Adding gravity to the situation the Centers for Disease Control CDC and the EPA advised that people with weakened immune systems should consult with their doctors and consider boiling their drinking water to kill any cryptosporidium2 This is just the tip of the iceberg Some scientists believe that for every outbreak reported in the United States another ten may be occurring3 One such study found that as many as one in three gastrointestinal illnesses often chalked up to stomach flu are caused by drinking water contaminated with microorganisms4 Such microbial-related outbreaks say nothing about the many other hazards borne by our nations water supply Researchers have shown that millions of Americans regularly drink tap water that is contaminated with toxic and cancer-causing chemicals such as lead trihalomethanes THMs arsenic radioactive materials and pesticides A 1994 study estimated that some 141 million Americans drank water contaminated with the pesticides atrazine cyanazine simazine alachlor and metolachlor5 The manufacturers of these agricultural herbicides have shown that these chemicals may cause cancer birth defects and genetic mutations To make matters worse some water utilities have been less than forthcoming with information about their drinking water supplies and the efficacy of their
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