KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims millions of Americans are unknowingly ingesting water that includes “an invisible toxic cocktail” of cancer-linked chemicals. Knoxville Utility Board (KUB) officials confirmed there are chemicals in your water, but say customers should not worry.

EWG found nine contaminants that exceeded its health guidelines in KUB water samples. Some of the numbers that stood out include there being 274 times the amount of total trihalomethanes than the group recommends, there was also 305 times the group’s guideline for haloacetic acids, and 171 times the group’s guideline for bromodichloromethane.

Again, that’s all according to the EWG guidelines, not the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA). This also isn’t only the case with KUB water, but with other utility companies across the region and nation.

EWG researchers feel the limits should be much lower than what is currently set by the EPA. They also feel just because the current levels are legal, that doesn’t make them safe.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s office of groundwater and drinking water has demonstrated for decades that it is utterly incapable of standing up to pressure from water utilities and polluters to protect human health from the dozens of toxic contaminants in America’s drinking water,” said the EWG President, Ken Cook.

KUB‘s Acting Manager of Laboratory and Regulatory Compliance said these contaminants were not a shock to them, they are actually published every year in the KUB Water Quality Report.

“There is nothing in the report that we don’t report out to our customers in our annual water quality report,” said Kevin Keaton. Keaton also pointed out that none of the compounds in the report exceed state or federal levels.

Keaton also reassured customers that EPA scientists are consistently re-analyzing their own regulations. “The way that our requirements for drinking water is established, they use science based research to make sure there is really a need there for a limit, that there is truly a health concern,” he said.

Greg Jones with the Clinton Utilities Board feels those with EWG do not understand the logistics of what reaching their standards would look like. “The technical feasibility of achieving those guidelines and the cost of treatment for it, under EPA and the state of Tennessee guidelines that they have in place for us now, which is non-harmful to public health,” said Jones.

Both Utility Board officials said customers need to know their companies are going above and beyond to keep them and everyone in their home safe.

We did reach out to the EPA. Below is their entire statement.

Safe, reliable drinking water is foundational to the health and opportunity of communities across the country. EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulations assure that public water systems are monitoring and taking actions to achieve meaningful reductions to human health risks from contaminants in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). These drinking water regulations address over 90 contaminants and contaminant groups.  EPA follows the science driven process required law to evaluate unregulated contaminants and to review existing regulations. Following this process, EPA has issued regulations to address a number of contaminants including those designed to reduce risks from disinfection byproducts, arsenic, surface water pathogens such as Cryptosporidium, pathogens in groundwater, and water served onboard airplanes. 

United States Environmental Protection Agency