Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight to give you safe drinking water. Most municipalities will provide an annual water quality report or consumer confidence report (CCRs) that provides detailed information about the quality of your drinking water during the past year. Water quality reports help you identify if there are contaminants present in your city’s tap water and how these may affect your health. If you don’t have this report on hand, you can find this information through the EPA Drinking Water site or by contacting your local municipality.

Because of aging infrastructure in certain areas, you may still get some contaminants in your water as the water travels from the municipal treatment plant to your home. Aging pipes and external contaminant infiltration may lead to contaminants in your water. If your water has a taste, odor or color issue, or you are concerned about the presence of a particular contaminant, consider the use of a water filter.

LEAD

As you may know, unhealthy levels of this dangerous metal have been detected in some U.S. water supplies. Lead in tap water can come from corrosion of household plumbing systems, or erosion of natural deposits. Symptoms of lead poisoning range from delays in physical and mental development in children, to kidney problems and high blood pressure in adults.

CHLORINE

Low levels of chlorine are added to public water supplies to kill bacteria and viruses, but once you turn on your tap it is no longer necessary. It can cause a bad smell and taste in water.

ZINC

While zinc is an essential trace element, it can add an undesirable taste and odor to your water.

COPPER

Similar to lead, unhealthy levels of this metal have been detected in some U.S. water supplies. While copper is most dangerous to young children, excessive exposure can cause gastrointestinal distress, liver issues and kidney damage with adults.

CADMIUM

High amounts of cadmium exposure can cause kidney, liver, bone and blood damage. According to Water Quality Association (WQA), cadmium can potentially cause a variety of effects from acute exposures, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, salivation, sensory disturbances, liver injury, convulsions, shock and renal failure.

MERCURY

According to the EPA, inorganic mercury from landfills can leach into the ground and contaminate water supplies. Excessive exposure can lead to kidney damage over time. According to WQA, high levels may also damage brain functioning, including changes in vision, hearing and memory problems.

FLUORIDE

Some municipal tap water contains fluoride.

PARTICULATES

Particulates are tiny sediments that can be found in your water. The particulates category includes debris such as rust, dirt, sand, sediment that can make your water appear cloudy and cause a bad smell and taste. The size of the sediment determines the classification.

ASBESTOS

While the health hazards for inhalation of asbestos have long been established, the known health risks in drinking water are lesser. The U.S. EPA notes an increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.

PHARMACEUTICALS & INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS

According to WHO, trace levels of pharmaceuticals have been reported in the water cycle, including surface waters, wastewater, groundwater and, to a lesser extent, drinking water. Adverse health impact to humans is very unlikely because of the low concentration.