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Are chemicals in your city tap water the cause of your cancer?

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Drink more water. You have heard this advice from the time you were a child. More than half of your body is water. Your heart, lungs and skin all need water to remain healthy. If you exercise or do physical work, you need even more H2O. If your goal was to be as healthy as possible, you probably followed this advice and urged your family to do the same.

However, if you live in California, your water may be making you sick. In fact, a recent study suggests that many people in the state can blame their illness on drinking water. If you have recently received a cancer diagnosis, you may want to look at the purity of your water supply.

What is in my water?

The report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that many California public water systems contain known cancer-causing agents. EWG studied nearly 2,000 public water systems, which serve almost all the residents in the state. After evaluating the data, the group concluded that about 15,500 cases of cancer may link directly to drinking public water during one's lifetime.

About 500 water systems place their customers at a high risk of cancer because of excessive levels of the following chemicals:

  • Uranium
  • Radium
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Arsenic

You may recognize hexavalent chromium as the chemical thought to be responsible for many cancers and birth defects that were highlighted in the movie "Erin Brockovich." You may also find it shocking that arsenic may be in your water. Even a small amount of arsenic can cause cancer. Environmental researchers say there is no level of arsenic that does not put your health at great risk.

What can I do about it?

The water systems that got the worst scores on the EWA's report are those that serve populations of 10,000 or fewer and rely mostly on groundwater. If your community's water utility fits that description, it is possible they don't have advanced methods of treating water for contaminants. The larger systems are not completely safe, however. Some of those still have cancer-causing chemicals in the water even with complex treatment capabilities.

While the report did not mention how California's water systems became so polluted with deadly chemicals, researchers recommend that residents use certified filters before drinking their tap water. This may be small comfort to you if you are already battling cancer. In fact, you may wish to explore your options both medically and legally for the best opportunities for your future.

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