An environmental group wants to help you find out whether there are pollutants in your drinking water.
The Environmental Working Group, an organization specializing in research and advocacy related to toxic chemicals, agriculture subsidies, public land and corporate accountability, has created a database that pulls about 30 million state, local and federal records on water pollution from 2010 to 2015.
The database is searchable by ZIP code and includes utility reports for cities and counties, along with how many people are served by each of those utilities.
When a utility is selected, the database shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the EWG by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as information from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database.
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The database tells you whether the tap water provided by each utility was in compliance with federal drinking water standards. The data also say which contaminants exceeded health guidelines, and whether the utility buys or receives its water from other utility systems.
The City of Raleigh water system, for example, had nine contaminants that exceeded health guidelines in the 2015 data. Six other contaminants also were identified. The contaminants included bromodichloromethan, chloroform, chlorate, chromium and dicloroacetic acid. The database notes illnesses that the contaminants have been linked to, including cancer.
North Carolina had dozens of utilities with violations during that period, including monitoring and reporting violations as well as violations of health-based drinking water standards.
Triangle utilities with violations were Edgemont Mobile Home Park in Wendell, Cedar Village II in Chapel Hill, the City of Raleigh, the Town of Smithfield and the Town of Fuquay-Varina.
The top 10 water providers with the most violation points based on violations and the length of time until they were corrected in North Carolina were in Newport, Providence, Carthage, Aberdeen, Jonesville, Mount Airy, Edenton, Gastonia, Liberty and Nashville.
The database is free to use. To search it, go to www.ewg.org/tapwater.
The EWG is a nonprofit organization whose mission, according to its website, is “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.” It was founded in 1993 by lobbyist Ken Cook and Richard Wiles, who works in climate science communications. The EWG is based in Washington, D.C., and has a sister organization, the EWG Action Fund, a lobbying group. The group has completed reports on cellphone radiation, cosmetics, sunscreen and foods with pesticide residue.