A new national survey shows almost a third of Americans (28%) have experienced water contamination issues in the past two years, a slight increase from a prior poll.
The survey, conducted by water technology company Bluewater, reveals how the deteriorating state of America’s aging infrastructure affects Americans’ drinking water attitudes and habits. Federal government rollbacks on clean water protections threaten to compound these national water problems.
“Everyone saw what happened in Flint,” said Bluewater president Anders Jacobson in reference to Flint’s lead contamination crisis. “It’s important we recognize that what happened in Flint wasn’t an anomaly — there are more than 3,000 U.S. communities found to have lead contamination levels higher than Flint, plus emerging instances of contamination from agricultural runoff, PFAS, microplastics and nitrates.”
The Bluewater survey also reveals more Americans are taking action to improve their water supply quality. Nearly 60% of respondents reported they are taking some kind of action to control what’s in their drinking water — ranging from drinking store-bought bottled water to using a purification system or water delivery service.
Changing attitudes toward single-use plastic water bottles
In January 2018, Bluewater published its first water habits survey that revealed 33% of Americans drank more than five plastic water bottles per week. One year later, that statistic dropped to 22%, suggesting that Americans are weaning off single-use plastic bottled water amidst growing awareness of plastic pollution and its threat to human and environmental health.
Additional survey findings:
— 24% of respondents are concerned lead and toxic metals are in their drinking water
— 11% of respondents are concerned PFAS contaminate their drinking water
— 9% of respondents rely on bottled water because their water supply is compromised
Despite the growing tide against single-use plastics, plastic bottled water dependency is still a major concern. The Bluewater survey found more than one quarter of respondents (26%) look to bottled water as a method to control the quality of their water supply.
But in addition to generating plastic waste, this dependency has unknown consequences. Last year, Orb Media released a study that found 93% of plastic water bottles contained “plastic debris including polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).” Research on the long-term health effects of consuming such debris is nascent but linked to hormonal changes and cancer.