Chemical contaminants

chemical contaminants illustration
Credit: Illustration by Cecily Mireles

A variety of industrial chemicals contaminate drinking water supplies. “Forever chemicals” have polluted well water throughout California, most often near airports, military bases and landfills. These perfluorinated chemicals are linked to kidney cancer and other serious health conditions in people drinking contaminated water

Other examples of industrial contaminants found in water supplies are perchlorate from defense contractors and flame retardants from building materials.

In addition, copper, arsenic and other elements naturally found in soil can leach into groundwater and plumbing systems. From 2015 through 2018, 4,460 active drinking water sources were reported to contain arsenic. 
Lead, which can alter children’s brain function and trigger learning disabilities, mostly seeps into water from home pipes and faucets. EdSource created an interactive map for checking the lead levels in schools’ drinking water.