In a new study, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the EPA analyzed single samples of untreated and treated water from 25 U.S. water utilities.

They found low concentrations of 18 chemicals not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act in over 1/3 of the samples, including 11 perfluorinated compounds, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial compound, a metal, and antidepressant.  Perfluorinated compounds, which were found most frequently, are used in a variety of industrial processes, including the manufacture of nonstick and stain-resistant food packaging, fabrics, and cookware.

While little is known of the potential health effects of long-term low-level exposure to these unregulated chemicals, research has shown that higher levels of exposure can lead to serious health issues, including ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and cancer. Edward Furlong, a scientist with the USGS who participated in the study, remarked “We’re hoping through this work the EPA will do a much more intensive contaminant candidate list and develop new methods and requirements for drinking water plants.” Regardless, switching to a bottleless water cooler with state-of-the-art filtration and purification technology might be the best decision yet!