Why Learn Whether is Florida tap water safe to drink?
You could be concerned about the safety of Florida’s water whether you’re visiting or a long-time resident of the state. Is Florida’s drinking water safe? Yes, to answer briefly. Florida’s government is obligated by law to abide by federal standards for quality of water, just like those of all other states.
Florida’s tap water is safe to drink, but it still has levels above recommended levels of a number of toxins that might be dangerous to your health if drink tap water in excess.
In this article, I’ll examine whether Florida’s tap water is safe throughout the state and which impurities are found in excess of the Environmental Working Group’s recommended levels in the state’s drinking water supply.
Can You Drink Florida Tap Water?
Yes, you may drink Florida’s tap water, and it is regarded that Florida tap water safe to drink. The MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) established by the Environmental Protection Agency are often lower than the toxins detected in Florida’s tap water (EPA).
The Environmental Working Group, however, objects to certain of the MCLs established by the Environmental Protection Agency and claims that the restrictions ought to be more stringent.
What does that imply then? The public water in Florida is safe to drink, according to the EPA. It isn’t, according to the EWG. Additionally, according to a study, Florida tap water is the second-worst in the country, which doesn’t exactly speak well for the quality of the state’s water.
It’s important to educate yourself on the quality of water in your community and determine if you believe Florida’s tap water safe to drink or otherwise. Nevertheless, groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim that the federal drinking water regulations are insufficient and out of date.
In 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 2018, although the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and others believe the restrictions for many toxins are too lax, implying that tap water that is regarded as “safe” to drink is anything but.
Florida’s municipal and public water systems try their best to purify the water and get rid of impurities, however certain contaminates inevitably stay in the system which contaminates Florida tap water.
Where Does the Tap Water in Florida Come From?
Groundwater is the source of Florida’s drinking water supplies. Air spaces between sediment and rock layers are where aquifers, which lie deep below the surface of the ground, originate. When it rains, water seeps deep underground, passes through subsurface silt and rocks, and then enters the aquifer.
Minerals and metallic compounds abound in the water of Florida’s aquifer. After being drawn from the aquifer and transported above ground, the groundwater is treated in public water systems to get rid of these impurities.
Florida water supply is naturally kept below, sandwiched between layers of clay-like silt and rock. Every time it rains, more water enters the system as it slowly filters through the soil’s layers. Water has a very lengthy subsurface storage capacity.
The Florida aquifer’s water has been dated by experts to be anywhere between 17 and 26,000 years old. The majority of Florida’s drinking water might thus be up to 26,000 years old. The water used in Florida may include significant concentrations of metals or other pollutants since it was kept between rocks.
The community and public water systems treat the water to ensure that the levels of contaminants are low enough not to pose a risk to human health as well as to ensure that it does not have an unpleasant taste, odor, or appearance.
Contaminants Found Above Guidelines in Tap Water in Florida
I glanced at the Environmental Working Group for Florida’s Water Quality Report to learn more about the quality of Florida water. Here is what the results revealed to me.
Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
Nearly the entire population of Florida, or more than 20 million people, get water supply that has levels of total trihalomethanes exceeding health limits (TTHMs). According to the EWG’s guidelines, 1,468 utilities fail to remove this contamination.
TTHMs are flammable, perhaps hazardous compounds that are created as a result of chlorine water disinfection. The most typical TTHM in public water systems is chloroform. TTHMs in Florida tap water are believed to cause harmful health impacts, such as cancer and reproductive issues.
Haloacetic acids (HAA5)
More than 20 million citizens of Florida receive water that has haloacetic acid concentrations exceeding health limits (HAA5). A total of 1,394 utilities provide their consumers with water that is too contaminated with this substance.
Another category of disinfection byproducts created when chlorine interacts with other naturally existing compounds in Florida tap water is haloacetic acids. Similar to TTHMs, HAA5 can cause various malignancies and reproductive problems.
In Florida, around 15 million people consume tap water that has levels of hexavalent chromium that the EWG deems harmful to human health. Only around 300 public water systems treat their water to reduce this pollutant to levels below hazardous.
A type of the metallic element chromium called hexavalent chromium is frequently created through industrial operations. Hexavalent chromium exposure has been associated to malignancies, skin rashes, and harm to the kidneys and liver.
In 1015 utilities, there are above-safe amounts of radium (226 and 228). In Florida, a little under 15 million people have access to drinking water with radium levels that are above safe levels.
Due to the local geology, radium can be found in subterranean aquifers of water. The human body absorbs around 20% of radium. Radium at high concentrations in drinking water has been linked to cancer, birth abnormalities, and renal impairment.
Approximately 11 million people in Florida consume more arsenic than is acceptable in their drinking water, which is provided by more than 700 water systems.
Groundwater contamination with arsenic is caused by natural soil deposits, industrial and agricultural pollutants, and agricultural runoff. Arsenic may be fatal in excessive doses. The negative health effects might vary from nausea and vomiting to inflamed lungs, weakened muscles, and cancer.
More than 10 million Floridians consume more of this toxin than the EWG advises because 224 utilities distribute water that has been tainted by excessive chlorate.
Chlorate can contaminate water when it is used as a disinfectant or when pesticides run off. The body’s capacity to absorb iodine can be impacted by prolonged exposure to chlorate in drinking water. Children are particularly at risk from this.
Copper and Lead
Florida’s water supply has an issue with copper and lead. In reality, many homes’ pipes contain these metals. The municipal and public water systems eliminate any copper or lead that may have been present in the original water source.
The water can, however, take up impurities from whatever it travels through after it leaves the water systems. Considering that lead and copper are both present in Florida’s domestic plumbing, your own pipes may be causing your tap water to be high in both metals without your knowledge.
In Florida, nitrate levels in the water supply are higher than recommended for more than 7 million people. More than 1,100 utilities distribute water that may or may not be polluted with nitrate, although only 750 utilities deliver this water.
The blood’s capacity to deliver oxygen throughout the body may be hampered by an excess of nitrate. Pregnant women are more vulnerable to the dangers of nitrate-contaminated water, which increases the possibility of blue baby syndrome.
More than 3 million people in Florida receive uranium-contaminated water from 135 utilities.
Water contains naturally occurring uranium from uranium ores. This radioactive material naturally exists in the air, soil, rocks, and water. However, consuming uranium can be harmful and result in inflammation, renal damage, and modifications to the content of urine, resulting in unsafe drinking water.
Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
More than 3 million Floridians drink water that has higher-than-safe amounts of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). It is known that 26 utilities give their consumers hazardous amounts of this chemical.
PFOS is a synthetic compound that has been called a “forever chemical” because of how long it lasts in the environment. PFOS is known to have adverse effects on the immune system, the liver, blood cholesterol levels, the thyroid, and other bodily functions.
Tap Water Quality in the Major Cities
There are a total of 24 pollutants in Miami Dade County’s water, 8 of which are over the EQG’s health standards, according to an EWG Water Quality Report. However, Miami’s tap water complies with EPA-set federal drinking water regulations.
One of Miami’s four water systems, which has a very high copper concentration, is one of the city’s four water systems. In Miami, between Southwest 184 Court and Southwest 189th Avenue, this system serves a tiny area.
Another significant issue in Miami is arsenic. In comparison to the EWG’s health recommendation of 0.004 ppb, the Miami investigation found 243 times more arsenic, or 0.971 ppb.
An EWG Water Quality Report of Jacksonville’s water found a total of 34 pollutants. The EWG’s health recommendations were found to be exceeded by 13 of these pollutants. According to EPA recommendations, the water in Jacksonville is deemed to be safe to drink.
Jacksonville’s water has high trihalomethane levels even though the city’s lead and copper levels are below the permitted limits. In addition, excessive amounts of arsenic (20 times the EWG’s health recommendation of 0.004 ppb) were found in Jacksonville’s water, according to the EWG research.
According to an EWG Water Quality Report, the City of Tampa Water Department serves its customers with water that has a total of 18 pollutants. Despite the fact that 6 of these toxins are above the EWG’s health thresholds, the water complies with all applicable federal drinking water regulations.
The tap water in Tampa is safe to drink and has acceptable amounts of trihalomethanes, arsenic, copper, chlorine, and other contaminants. Arsenic is detected in Tampa’s water system in quantities that are 198 times higher than the EWG’s health recommendations, which the EWG highlights as a problematic pollutant.
According to an EWG Water Quality Report on the Orlando Utilities Commission, there are 16 different toxins in Orlando’s water, 5 of which are beyond the EWG’s health standards. Once more, the water in Orlando complies with EPA drinking water regulations.
Another Florida city with high trihalomethane water levels is Orlando. Additionally, the EWG found 192 times as much haloacetic acid and more than twice as much hexavalent chromium in Orlando’s water as it advises (HAA5).
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does Florida Water Taste Bad?
Florida’s water has a lot of pollutants that make it taste bad (and smell). In Florida, many individuals only ever drink canned water, which is due to a number of different impurities. Metallic taste, chemical taste, rotten egg taste/odor, and salty taste are the most frequent flavor complaints about Florida’s water.
Sulfur, copper, iron, manganese, chloramine, and chlorine are just a few of the contaminants that can alter the flavor of water and lower its quality. The American Water Works Association’s “Taste at the Tap” consumer guide notes that certain pollutants in tap water can cause it to taste metallic, bitter, or even salty.
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (SCML) are two separate types of standards that the EPA establishes for community and public water systems.
A pollutant can pose a danger to human health if its maximum concentration (MCL) is exceeded. While the secondary level (SCML) of a contaminant aids in the monitoring of the water’s appearance, odor, and flavor in community and public water systems.
According to the EPA, the pollutants may make the water seem hazy or tinted, as well as give it a foul flavor or odor.
However, it is not necessary for the water systems to maintain the pollutants below these SCML values. It is only counsel. This implies that one (or more) of these pollutants may cause your water to taste odd or have an off-putting appearance.
If your water tastes foul, the many tastes you could be experiencing in Florida and their potential causes are listed in the chart below.
An 80,000-mile, multi-state aquifer with trillions of gallons of water lies beneath Florida. In the fifth wettest state in the US, replenishing the aquifer was rarely a problem as long as the climate and demography didn’t change.
However, the water supply is suffering from population expansion of more than 300,000 per year as new wells are being dug at an unprecedented rate. Although over-extraction is to blame for emptying the aquifer and the natural springs that supply many public water sources, drought has had an influence.
Florida is experiencing a water problem due to the removal of wetlands to make way for construction.
The proportion of impurities increases as the amount of water in the aquifer decreases. What was formerly pure drinking water now has increased concentrations of dissolved materials like sulfur and salts, which give water a rotten egg smell and a metallic, bitter flavor.
Residents of central Florida swamped treatment personnel with phone calls in 2017 over their tap water. Taps were emitting a scent of muddy fertilizer. What is the root of the issue? compounds from a non-toxic algal bloom triggered by an abnormally warm spring.
These occurrences are unfortunately common given that the Sunshine State has average daily temperatures of 90 °F in June.
But these citizens were fortunate. Blue-green algal blooms in certain Florida water sources are a problem because they produce irritable chemicals. To make matters worse, the additional disinfectants and algaecides required to manage these naturally occurring microbes give water a chemical flavor.
Why is Florida Tap Water Yellow?
Water quality in Florida can be problematic for reasons other than taste. Your tap water may have a yellow tint, as you have already seen. The most frequent cause of this is dissolved organic compounds, however, other pollutants can also contribute to it.
Drinking water that has a yellow tint can also be caused by metals and chlorination. Although normally Florida tap water safe to drink, yellow water doesn’t seem particularly attractive.
Is the Tap Water in Florida Fluoridated?
Yes. Florida’s drinking water is mostly fluoridated. In order to promote dental health, fluoride is added to water, although this can change how the water tastes, and there is conflicting evidence about the impact of drinking fluoridated water on one’s health. Fluoride occurs naturally in the water in a few counties in Florida.
Will Boiling Water Remove Florida’s Contaminants?
No. Boiling water will aid in the evaporation of chlorine and chloramine, two commonly used water disinfectants, but it won’t get rid of any other non-biological impurities. Boiling water just serves to evaporate part of the water, producing water that is more concentratedly polluted.
If you reside in Florida, is it preferable to drink bottled water?
Because bottled water tastes so much better than the state’s tap water, many Floridians do so. The risk to your health is decreased when you consume bottled water. Unfortunately, bottled water isn’t better for the environment even though it could be better for you.
The tap water in Florida is not as good as water in bottles. However, using a filter system to eliminate the impurities from your tap water is the best option. In addition to being more cost-effective over time, at-home water filtration is an ecologically good alternative to purchasing water in endless bottles, which may also benefit bottled water companies for the wrong reasons.