The Top 7 Toxic Substances Found in Drinking Water

Water is Deceiving

Water is supposed to be the purest beverage of them all. There are no flavorings. There are no colorings. There is no sugar content. In fact, our bodies are 60% composed of it.

Its Toxic Path

The problem is in the journey that water takes before traveling down your throat.

Along that journey, your water may intersect with herbicides sprayed by a farmer. That water may be dumped upon by corporations toxic wastewater. Your water’s path may also travel down rusty, corroded pipes.

The Challenges of Modern Chemicals

Our modern lifestyle presents many challenges for the outdated filtering processes of our nation’s water companies. Updating these processes adequately would incur a trillion dollars in costs.

The Water Report

This is why it is so important to take a look at your local water report. Everyone has access to these reports by using a simple google search.

Health Concerns

There are serious health risks to being chronically exposed to any of the thirteen toxic substances commonly found in drinking water. Following, I will discuss the concerns of each of these as well as what I have found to be the best option for filtering all of them out.

The Chemicals


an EPA diagram of lead sources in drinking water
Lead is a toxic substance found in drinking water

Most Americans are familiar with the case in Flint, Michigan. The circumstances behind this tragedy involved a city trying to save a little money by switching the local water source without doing proper testing first.

Drinking water contaminated by lead carries with it many serious health risks. Young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible. When exposed, these populations have experienced stunted growth and development. Other populations are at risk for cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and reproductive challenges.


a combine  harvesting a wheat field
Atrazine is a toxic substance found in drinking water

Atrazine is an herbicide commonly used in agriculture. This chemical ends up in our drinking water. In fact, 7.6 million Americans possess tapwater that contains unsafe levels of this weed killer.

One of the most disturbing studies of the effects of this substance, found it to change the actual sex of frogs from male to female. Besides obvious hormonal disturbances, Atrazine is associated with preterm births & certain cancers.

Perhaps what is most disturbing is the fact that Europe banned the use of this chemical decades ago while the U.S. is currently in the process of lowering their restrictions.

Volatile organic compounds (vocs)

someone pumping gas into their car
Benzene is a voc that is a toxic substance found in drinking water

VOCs enter our drinking water through a variety of sources, including commercial/residential applications of cleaning products and other chemical substance waste such as gasoline and paints. Another big source is chemical runoff from landfills.

VOCs have been found to cause a variety of cancers. Following are the most harmful forms to watch out for:

Vinyl Chloride
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
Carbon tetrachloride
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
VOCS to scan your water report for


Flouride is a toxic substance found in drinking water

The story behind fluoride is an interesting, yet disturbing one indeed. In 1945 some amazing PR tactics suddenly transformed the image of this chemical from that of environmental pollutant to essential nutrient.

Though there is evidence that flouride does indeed help build healthy teeth, this appears to be most effective in toothpaste. In fact, in areas where the substance has been added to the drinking water, there is high incidence of weakening of the teeth. Beyond that, this overuse of fluoride can put strain on the kidneys.

Scientists have also seen evidence that fluoride exposure can contribute to bone fragility, bone cancer, arthritis and inhibited brain development.


a lot of pans together
PFOA/PFOS is a toxic substance found in drinking water

If you have ever seen the movie “Dark Waters” with Mark Ruffalo, you know just how toxic PFOA/PFOS-contaminated drinking water can be.

This abbreviation refers to the “forever chemicals” (they don’t leave the body for many years) that are used to produce non-stick, waterproof/water-resistant, stain-resistant and wrinkle-free/wrinkle-resistant products. This typically involves items like outdoor gear, teflon pans, sheets, dress/workout clothing, etc.

In the film I mentioned above, we discover that DuPont was found guilty of contaminating the local water for decades, putting the residents at risk for cancers, reproductive issues, birth defects and more. They knew about it and they actively hid what they knew. 3M is the company that poisoned my local water in the same way.


Chlorine and/or Chloramine are the chemicals water companies use to disinfect your water. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of cancers as well as heart disease.

Disinfectant by-products

Trihalomethanes (TTHMS) and Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are byproducts creating from using chlorine and chloramine as disinfectants in our water. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to miscarriages, bladder/colorectal cancers, low birth weight babies and changes in ovarian functioning.

My Filtering System of Choice

I know all of this information can be very overwhelming. The good news is that there is a simple and affordable solution. Every single one of these chemicals is filtered out by the Berkey countertop water filtering system, my filtering method of choice.

If anyone in your household showers frequently, you may also want to consider installing an inexpensive KDF shower filter, such as the one that Aquasana sells. This is due to how easily chlorine enters the body through both absorption and inhalation (steam).

Do you filter your water? If so, what convinced you to start, and what system do you use?

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