Contaminated tap water and cancer

Researchers from Environmental Working Group conducted a cumulative assessment of cancer risk due to carcinogenic compounds found in drinking water. They used a novel analytical framework that calculated their combined health impacts. Results of the study showed that these substances would result in more than 100,000 cancer cases nationwide. Findings of the study are published in journal Heliyon.

In this study they utilized comprehensive nationwide dataset for contaminant occurrence in community water systems in the United States. This dataset contains water quality profiles for 48,363 community water systems. The dataset does not include water quality information on private wells .

Most of the increased cancer risk is due to contamination with arsenic, disinfection byproducts and radioactive elements such as uranium and radium. Water systems with the highest risk tend to serve smaller communities and rely on groundwater. These communities often need improved infrastructure and resources to provide safe drinking water to their residents. However, large surface water systems contribute a significant share of the overall risk due to the greater population served and the consistent presence of disinfection byproducts.

This research highlights importance of much needed improvement in infrastructure to provide clean and safe drinking water.