Tainted Tap Water

Tainted Tap Water

Residents near downtown L.A. are afraid to drink their brown tap water, which contains harmful levels of dangerous chemicals. By antiquated Federal standards, it's considered safe. (NYT)

What comes out of the tap in this poor, predominantly Hispanic area, located near a Superfund toxic chemical site, should frighten anyone. The yellowish brown sludge that settles in the bottom of a glass of water looks, tastes, and smells “kinda bad.” Many low-income residents feel compelled to buy expensive bottled water to protect their health. Tests have revealed high levels of manganese — which is linked to Parkinson’s disease — and the carcinogenic industrial solvent TCE, yet the water technically meets the antiquated standards set by law.

This New York Times investigative series found that the 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Maywood city council member Felipe Aguirre has heard from his constituents that their nasty drinking water is a top concern, yet attempts to do something about it resulted in personal attacks from the local water companies. Aguirre and others continue to fight to change the law, but, until then, there will be “a lot of sick people in Maywood.”

The Times’ “Toxic Water” series focuses on “the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators’ response.” Previous installments have addressed the impact of sewage, power plants, agricultural runoff, industrial waste and herbicides – most accompanied with illuminating video reports.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 6:31

Produced by Brent Mc Donald, Charles Duhigg
Photography: Monica Almeida

SEE ALSO:

“Millions in U.S, Drink Contaminated Water, Records Show” in the video: “Tainted Tap Water”

“Sewers at Capacity, Waste Poisons Waterways” in the video: “Polluted Harbors”

“Cleansing the Air at the Expense of Waterways” in the video: “From Air to Water Waste”

“Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells” in the video: “The Danger of Livestock Waste”

“Pollution Grows with Little Fear of Punishment” in the video: “Coal in the Water”

Also: Debating How Much Weed Killer is Safe in your Water Glass

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