The 35-year-old U.S. federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks, even if it meets all legal standards.
Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water. But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.
Recent studies have also found that even some chemicals regulated by that law pose risks at much smaller concentrations than previously known. However, many of the act’s standards for those chemicals have not been updated since the 1980’s, and some remain essentially unchanged since the law was passed in 1974.