Chemicals in Drinking Water

The problem of chemicals in drinking water is not something that happens only in less industrialized nations where pollution standards are lax or nonexistent. These contaminants are found in surface water virtually everywhere, and they get there in a variety of different ways. Some of these include:

Pharmaceutical Chemicals

One of the most alarming chemical contaminants in our water comes from pharmaceuticals being introduced into wastewater. Advances in water testing methods have allowed officials to begin to grasp the scope of this problem, and the lasting effects of exposure, if any, are still being determined.

When we take painkillers, antidepressants, birth control pills, or any other type of drug, only a portion is absorbed by our bodies. The rest is vented from our bodies as waste and enters the sewers where they are not removed by standard wastewater treatment.

Other Chemical Contaminants

These chemicals represent a more pressing concern as they settle into the sediment in lakes and rivers and enter the tissues of every creature in the food web. Much more is known about the health effects of these contaminants, and increased awareness has led to stricter controls on how industries dispose of their wastes. But it takes a very long time for these chemicals to dissipate once they enter our waters.


This is a very brief sample of the chemicals that are present in drinking water all over the world. The list of chemicals actually found in drinking water is much longer, and the effects vary significantly from one to the next. However, one thing is certain. Decades of careless use and disposal of these chemicals into the environment has created a worldwide problem that future generations will be dealing with for a very long time.

If you are curious about what contaminants are present in your drinking water, contact your county health department or water commission for a list of laboratories that can, for a reasonable fee, screen your water for a variety of contaminants. With that information, you can explore the idea of providing your own water filtration equipment if you, like many other people, want to proactively seek your own solution.