Pennsylvania, also known as the Keystone state, attracts people from all parts of the US with its rich colonial history and top jobs market. Ostensibly, Pennsylvia’s lush, green countryside, diverse cities and mountainous landscape make the state the perfect place to settle whether starting a family or entering into retirement - but, the truth is, Pennsylvania has a long history of polluted tap water.
One of the top reasons for Pennsylvania’s tap water issues is that the state once relied heavily on coal mining as an economic resource. Decades of unregulated mining gave way to a stable flow of pollution affecting nearby waterways, producing rust-colored rivers and streams and also causing toxic black snow. Toxins and pollutants that leach into Pennsylvania’s waterways cause nearly 20,000 miles of Pennsylvanian streams, rivers and creeks to be all but unusable as they don’t meet federal standards for fishing and swimming. Rainfall is a big cause of contaminated water in Pennsylvania as some areas of the state get hit hard by sewage overflow that seeps into the river systems after a good, heavy rain.
On the outskirts of Philadelphia, nearly 85,000 people are exposed to PFAS contaminents in their drinking water, a byproduct of firefighting foam once used in the area’s decommissioned military bases. Statewide, 6-million Pennsylvanians are served with unsafe water; and a 2019 study found that more than 4,000 of the state’s municipal water systems were in violation of water quality standards set by the EPA. Fracking greatly affects communities in rural Pennsylvania, where groundwater is often contaminated by the chemicals used in the fracking process.
The question is, does Pennsylvania have good tap water? The answer: Water in Pennsylvania is legally safe to drink - but is it good? No. To further illustrate this point: in the state’s capital, Philadelphia, chloramine is added to tap water in municipal water facilities, giving it a distinctly bad taste. Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia - even at a “safe” level, who wants that in their drinking water? A good water filtration device will give Pennsylvanians access to the healthiest and most pure water they can have without counting on the state’s municipal water systems - the public water systems that add chloramine to the water supply - to get rid of harmful impurities. Further down we’ll talk more about at-home water filtration and how it allows Pennsylvanians the power over their own tap, but first, how did Pennsylvania’s water supply become one of the worst in the US?
How did this happen?
There are a few different factors that combine to create the perfect storm that makes a state’s water quality substandard.
- Deteriorating infrastructure - The first reason deals with the infrastructure of the municipality supplying the water. In a perfect situation, public water pipes would remain in tip-top condition but in the real world, they don’t. Here’s a common example seen in deteriorating pipes: If a water pipe becomes old and starts to leak it can create a vacuum-like situation pulling untreated water in with treated water. When you turn on your faucet, your water would be both treated and untreated.
- Deteriorating infrastructure (part 2) - Another problem with old pipes is that they can seep copper, lead and additional heavy metal impurities - inviting a dangerous and unhealthy cocktail of contaminants into your drinking cup.
- Hazardous runoff - Hazardous tap water is also caused by runoff from farms and manufacturing plants, like car-making plants and coal mining plants. Runoff seeps into our water bodies and then gets into our water supply.
- Adding chlorine - Municipalities often add chlorine to the water supply in order to improve the taste or smell of the water; but it’s not safe.
How can I find out if my home has bad tap water in Pennsylvania?
Ask your provider.
The first thing you should do is call or email your local water provider and ask them to give you a copy of the most up-to-date water quality report they have. This report will detail the exact tests done to the water in your area with the dates the tests were performed and the results of the tests. The test results will give you insight into what contaminants may have been detected in your water. After that you can decide to have further testing done or you could move forward satisfied with what the report says - either way now you have information about the likely contaminants in your water.
Send samples for testing.
The most thorough testing will occur when you send out a sample of your tap water - this will also give you the most accurate results. You should always send your sample to a certified water-testing lab because they hire experts who will know what to look for. As an example: some chemical contaminants are hard-to-detect and can be overlooked by novice testers. Professional water labs will check for bacteria, chlorine, lead and pesticides as well as any specific contaminants you request.
Test your water at home.
You can also do it yourself and if that’s something you enjoy, there are water testing kits that can be purchased to make that happen. Professional lab testing is the most accurate and thorough way to test water - but with that said, at-home water testing kits can provide you with crucial information on your drinking water.
You can buy a kit online or in your local hardware store. The test strip kit will give you instructions on how to perform a test at home. Here’s an important tip: when testing your water at home, yourself, do it twice. Testing your water two times will ensure that your results are accurate. If you find that impurities are present, consider investing in a good water filtration device. A good water filtration system will help you to eliminate many contaminants and bring your drinking water to its most healthy and pure state. Finding a good, reliable water filtration system may be a daunting task - so let’s talk about the best system available to you.
Invest in The Water Machine.
The Water Machine is the world's first all-glass, gravity-fed countertop water filter. It's design is both functional and stylish, making The Water Machine an eye-pleasing focal point in your kitchen - or wherever you decide to put it. The Water Machine features a sleek hammered-glass design and can filter up to 6,000 gallons of water over a 10-year span (if you consume a gallon-and-a-half of water a day). Water filtered through The Water Machine is crisp and clean without a metallic or plastic aftertaste; it is some of the most delicious and refreshing water you'll ever enjoy. Plus our all-glass design helps reduce plastic waste in the environment. In fact, The Water Machine is committed to environmental causes, with a portion of all of our sales going toward clean water organizations including Water.org, who has given 36-million people worldwide access to clean, uncontaminated water; and Charitywater.org, whose goal is to bring clean drinking water to everyone on the planet. Please visit their websites to see more of the amazing work these organizations do.
The Water Machine eliminates the following contaminants: Bacteria like E. coli, Chlorine, Viruses, Chloramines, Parasites, Fluoride, Heavy Metals, Trihalomethane (THMs), Pharmaceuticals, Petroleum Contaminants, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Radiologicals, Perfluorochemicals (PFOAS), and Herbicides & Pesticides.