How clean is LA tap water?
If you’re one of the more than 10 million residents of Los Angeles, chances are you’ve poured yourself a cup of water from a city-supplied tap.1 While the latest Environmental Protection Agency report (January 2019-March 2019) found that Los Angeles water quality was in compliance with the federal health guideline for drinking water standards, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t still some contaminants present in the water.2
Read on to learn more about what LA’s water supply contains, and how you can treat your own water source at home with a water filtration system.
Examining LA Water Quality
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) drinking water quality report, tap water provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was in compliance with federal drinking standards.3 This data covers years 2012-2017.
Just because LA’s tap water was in compliance doesn’t mean, according to EWG, that this water is necessarily safe to drink. The purpose of EWG is to bridge the gap between actual water quality and what is mandated by government standards.
EWG claims that “legal limits for contaminants in LA tap water have not been updated in almost 20 years,” meaning the bar for meeting federal regulations may be too low.
The latest report outlining what is in LA’s water found 21 total contaminants with eight exceeding EWG health guidelines.
These eight contaminants include:3
- Arsenic – Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust but can be highly toxic in its inorganic form.4 EWG’s guidelines for safe arsenic levels in tap water are 0.004ppb (parts per billion); LA’s arsenic levels are 2.08 ppb; legal levels are 10 ppb. The national average level of arsenic in drinking water is .682 ppb.
- Bromate – EWG defines bromate as a “carcinogenic disinfection byproduct formed when source waters containing bromide are treated with ozonation or sodium hypochlorite.” EWG’s guidelines for safe bromate levels in tap water are 0.1ppb; LA’s levels are 1.26 ppb; and the legal limit is 10 ppb. The national average is .735 ppb.
- Chromium – Chromium is a carcinogen that may be found in drinking water as a result of industrial pollution or natural occurrences in groundwater. The EWG’s guidelines for safe levels of chromium are 0.02 ppb; LA’s levels are 0.857 ppb; and there is no legal limit for chromium. The national average is 0.492 ppb.
- Haloacetic acids – There are five haloacetic acids regulated by the federal government. These are formed when disinfectants like chlorine are added to tap water. EWG guidelines suggest 0.1ppb or less; LA’s levels are 10.5ppb; the legal limit is 60 ppb. The national average is 17.2 ppb.
- Nitrate – Nitrate is often found in drinking water that is near agricultural and urban runoff. This fertilizer chemical discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and septic tanks. EWG guidelines dictate that safe levels of nitrate are 0.14ppm (parts per million); LA’s levels are 1.82ppm; the national legal limit is 10ppm. The national average is 0.927ppm.
- Nitrite – Like nitrate, nitrite enters drinking water from fertilizer and urban runoff and septic tanks. EWG guidelines for safe levels of nitrite are 0.14 ppm; LA’s levels are 1.23 ppm; the legal limit is 10 ppm. The national average is 0.891 ppm.
- Total trihalomethanes – Total trihalomethanes are contaminants that form during water treatment from chlorine and other disinfectants—this group includes four chemicals. EWG’s guidelines for safe levels of trihalomethanes are 0.15 ppb; LA’s levels are 28.3 ppb; the legal limit is 80 ppb. The national average is 30.1ppb.
- Uranium – Uranium is a carcinogen that has been used as an energy source for more than half a century.5 Facilities report levels of uranium in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) which measures radioactivity in water. EWG’s guidelines for safe levels of uranium are 0.43 pCi/L; LA’s levels are 3.02 pCi/L; the legal limit is 20 pCi/L. The national average for levels of uranium in drinking water is 1.09 pCi/L.
The health concern with all of the above contaminants is their potential to cause cancer at high enough contaminant levels. Los Angeles water quality falls short of EWG guidelines, but it fares better than the national average for levels of haloacetic acids and total trihalomethanes.
Water Filters: The Answer to Clean Water
According to EWG, water filtration and contacting your local officials are two ways to address the high levels of contaminants in LA drinking water.
The LA County Department of Public Health says that while public water suppliers in the city routinely test their water, “the cost of reducing contaminant levels to zero would be prohibitively expensive.”6
While it may take some time to hear back from government leaders, you can start filtering your home water source today for far less money than it would take to treat an entire city’s water source.
EWG outlines a few water filter options, including activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange.
The water filter system that best reduces contaminant levels is reverse osmosis. This system effectively eradicates all of the above mentioned contaminants, plus more than half-a-dozen other contaminants. The system works by pushing unfiltered water through a reverse osmosis membrane that removes impurities and contaminants, leaving you with fresh-tasting water.
Rayne Water: LA Water Made Clean
LA’s tap water is legally safe to consume, but that doesnt’ mean the water quality is top notch. According to the guidelines set forth by research and advocacy nonprofit Environmental Working Group, LA’s tap water should be filtered before drinking. Installing a reverse osmosis water filtration system in your home—especially if you live in southern California—is one step you can take to treat your water.
Water treatment company Rayne Water services California, Arizona, and Nevada and has several reverse osmosis and water softener systems available.
If you want LA water made clean and soft, consider installing a Rayne Water system today. Rayne offers a variety of water systems along with helpful tidbits such as how to remember to drink water or is chlorinated water safe to drink?
- U.S. Census Bureau. Quick Facts: LA County. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/losangelescountycalifornia,CA/PST045219
- Tap Safe. Is Los Angeles Tap Water Safe To Drink? https://www.tapsafe.org/los-angeles-tap-water/#:~:text=The%20Los%20Angeles%2C%20CA%20USA,and%20it’s%20bottled%2Dwater%20quality
- EWG. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/system.php?pws=CA1910067
- World Health Organization. Arsenic. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/arsenic
- World Nuclear. What is Uranium? How Does it Work? https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/introduction/what-is-uranium-how-does-it-work.aspx
- County of Los Angeles Public Health. Water Quality. http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/tea/toxicepi/water.htm
- Rayne Water. Residential Reverse Osmosis Systems. https://www.raynewater.com/residential_category/drinking-water-systems/