US Water Quality Wake-Up Call: Americans Report Increase in Instances of Water Contamination

Approximately half of Americans worry about lead, PFAS, microplastics and other contaminants in water supply

Anders Jacobson

A new national survey shows almost a third of Americans (28%) have experienced water contamination issues in the past two years, a slight increase from a prior poll.* The survey, conducted by leading water technology company and global advocate for clean water Bluewater, reveals how the deteriorating state of America’s aging infrastructure affects Americans’ drinking water attitudes and habits. Federal government rollbacks on clean water protections threaten to compound these national water problems.

“Everyone saw what happened in Flint,” said Bluewater president Anders Jacobson in reference to Flint’s lead contamination crisis. “It’s important we recognize that what happened in Flint wasn’t an anomaly - there are more than 3,000 U.S. communities found to have lead contamination levels higher than Flint, plus emerging instances of contamination from agricultural runoff, PFAS, microplastics, and nitrates.”

The Bluewater survey also reveals more Americans are taking action to improve their water supply quality. Nearly 60 percent of respondents reported they are taking some kind of action to control what’s in their drinking water--ranging from drinking store-bought bottled water to using a purification system or water delivery service.

Changing Attitudes toward Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

In January 2018, Bluewater published its first water habits survey that revealed 33 percent of Americans drank more than five plastic water bottles per week. One year later, that statistic dropped to 22 percent, suggesting that Americans are weaning off single-use plastic bottled water amidst growing awareness of plastic pollution and its threat to human and environmental health.

Embracing Clean Solutions

Approximately one in five Americans reported they now routinely carry reusable water canteens and hold a desire for public water refill stations, helping the environment and ensuring access to uncontaminated water.

“The ‘easy’ conveniences society afford us are polluting our bodies and our planet,” Jacobson continued. “Bluewater’s work around the globe and this survey show that individuals are searching for more sustainable, clean water pure water solutions. What will it take for the world’s governments, corporations, and communities to do more collectively to stem the plastic waste stream and guarantee clean water for citizens?”

Additional Survey Findings:

-       24 percent of respondents are concerned lead, and toxic metals are in their drinking water

-       11 percent of respondents are concerned PFAS contaminate their drinking water

-       9 percent of respondents rely on bottled water because their water supply is compromised

Despite the growing tide against single-use plastics, plastic bottled water dependency is still a major concern. The Bluewater survey found more than one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) look to bottled water as a method to control the quality of their water supply.

But in addition to generating plastic waste, this dependency has unknown consequences. Last year, Orb Media released a study that found 93 percent of plastic water bottles contained “plastic debris including polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).” Research on the long-term health effects of consuming such debris is nascent but linked to hormonal changes and cancer.


*Survey methodology: One-time survey fielded to the general population in the United States on 11/16/2017 through 11/18/2017 via Google Consumer Surveys publisher network on behalf of Bluewater, receiving at least 1,701 responses. And a one-time survey fielded to the general population in the United States on 1/2/2019 through 1/4/2019 via Google Consumer Surveys publisher network on behalf of Bluewater, receiving at least 1,256 responses.

*Reuters, “Reuters finds 3,810 U.S. areas with lead poisoning double Flint’s” Nov. 14, 2017

Source: Bluewater

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