Asbestos In The Water Supply.


Asbestos In The Water Supply.

Asbestos is just one of many toxins that can get into our drinking water, and there are many ways it can happen. While there are more regulations than ever to help prevent it, here's what you need to know about asbestos in our drinking water.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the majority of the United States consumes drinking water that has asbestos contamination, but the concentrations are low enough that health issues are unlikely. However, if levels reach a high enough quantity, water suppliers must notify their customers within 30 days.


How Does Asbestos Get into the Water Supply?

Most people don't realize just how old much of our country's infrastructure is. Many water systems use pipes dating back to the mid-1900s when concrete and cement contained asbestos. Many homes built before the 1980s still have these pipes and you could be using them without knowing it. These pipelines generally last around 70 years before they need to be replaced.


With asbestos cement pipes accounting for up to 15% of drinking water systems across the country, and being widely used across Australia, Japan, and Europe, this is a major cause of asbestos contamination in the water supply. Overtime, weather, corrosion, and demolition cause these pipes to degrade, with the asbestos fibers leaking into the water supply.


What We're Doing About It

The asbestos contamination in our water supply is not going unaddressed. Water treatment plants help fight contamination through reverse osmosis systems, which remove asbestos from water. This is necessary since asbestos fibers do not dissolve in water (meaning they are there until they are removed through such a process) and they also don't evaporate in the air.


If the reverse osmosis system uses filters of 1 micron or smaller, this process will reduce most asbestos in the water. More sophisticated treatment facilities might utilize granular media filtration to remove up to 99.9% of asbestos from the water.


Is your water contaminated?

If you're concerned about the amount of asbestos in your water, you should start with a water contaminant test. If contaminants are found, you should try to get to the root of the problem, like by checking for broken pipelines.


If you find that your water is contaminated with asbestos, you should call the Right-to-Know Hotline at 800-424-9346. You should also reach out to your utilities company to voice your concerns.



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