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Environmental Illness - Toxic Chemicals in Our Environment

Water pollution

Your drinking water may come from a public water system or a well, or you may use bottled water. Public water systems are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But water from a well may need testing to make sure it is safe to drink. You may be able to use a water filter or a water purification system to provide safe water. It is important for you to know where your drinking water comes from, if it is treated, and if it's safe to drink.

  • If you have a private well, make sure that it is not located too close to a septic system. You are responsible for getting your well water tested to see if it is safe to drink. You may want to get your well water tested regularly to make sure it is safe.
  • If you are on a public water system, a local agency will let you know when there is a problem with the water. Follow all instructions for purifying your water (commonly called "boil orders") or for using other water sources. Authorities will tell your community when it is safe to drink from the public water supply again.
  • If you use bottled water, it may be difficult to be sure the water is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets quality standards for bottled water and requires companies to sample and test bottled water to meet these standards. But the FDA does not regulate bottled water production in the same way that the EPA regulates public water systems. If a brand of bottled water is found to be contaminated, the FDA can make sure it is no longer sold. If you use bottled water, try to get it from a company that has a good reputation.

Be aware that water can be contaminated by organisms such as bacteria or fungi, by chemicals such as pesticides, and by metals such as lead or mercury.

Pesticides

Exposure to pesticides may come from residual agricultural pesticides in foods; from household or workplace products used to control rodents, insects, and termites; and from disinfectants and fungicides. The most likely ways you are exposed are small quantities of pesticides in the foods you eat and by direct contact with surfaces (such as plants, soils, or structures) where pesticides have been used.

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