WARNING: Utilities Do Not Test Your Home’s Water
They are only required to test the water sent from their facilities, there is little to no data on what pollutants and heavy metals tap water can pick up on the way to your home. The only way to be sure you and your family are drinking healthy water is to test what comes out of your faucet.
Check Out Our Pick for the Best Home Water Test Kit
Tap Score is the only home water testing service with unbiased treatment matching and health risk analysis
Capable of indentifying more contanimants and measuring to lower levels than the cheap Amazon test strips or Home Depot home test kits
Build your own test kit tailored to possible local contamination like septic tanks or PFAS
Easy-to-read summary allows you to quickly identify the adverse health consequences from pollutants in your water supply
Certified for every US State, Water Utility and Business Sector, expecially useful for home loan requirements
Radiation testing is expensive but not necessary for typical home owners
Why Trust Waterful.org?
Our water scientists and engineers spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers .
NYC Water System Overview
|Population Served||8,271,000 Residents|
|Water Source||Catskill & Delaware Watersheds|
|Number of Violations||15 Total (4 Bacteria Violations)|
|Contaminants Above Guidance||Fluoride|
|Local Toxic Water Releases||2,290,623 lbs (2018)|
|Local PFAS Detections||47 Detections|
New York City has been known to have the best tasting tap water in the country and its often referred to as the reason for the great tasting pizza and bagels. Unfortunately there are pollutants in this NYC tap water that you cannot taste and they are known to cause significant health concerns.
The main culprit for polluted water around New York City is the heavy industrial discharge just on the other side of the Hudson. The EPA just reported that Union County, NJ had over 2 million pounds of toxic water releases in 2018, the 3rd highest county in the entire country!
New York City Water System Sources
Upstate New York supplies the majority of drinking water to New York City. The Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds are piped downstate, providing an amazingly fresh water source.
If you were to tap the water at this source, you would taste wonderful spring water free of any contaminants. Unfortunately that piping requirement is where unwanted pollutants can enter the system.
So Can I Drink NYC Tap Water?
When deciding whether unfiltered tap water is safe drink, it is important to consider more information than just what is provided by the utility. Simply this is because regulations rarely keep up with scientific research and public health recommendations.
For example, a recent study in a pediatrics research journal showed that exposure to fluoride (a chemical added to water in NYC to prevent dental decay) during pregnancy was associated with childhood IQ declines.
Another example is the addition of chlorine to New York City tap water, a chemical with detrimental effects on human health, including:
- increases risk of cancer
- causes cellular damage
- increases risk of asthma
- severely dries skin and hair
- irritates eyes and nose
And these are the chemicals we willingly add to our water!
When looking for nastier, lesser known contaminants that could potentially seep their way into the water supply, the New York Water Service has consistently tested for eight contaminants at levels that researchers believe are harmful to human health.
|Contaminant||Health Guideline||Health Effect|
|Bromodichloromethane||76x higher||Cancerous (causes 5% of bladder cancer worldwide) and harmful to fetal growth and development|
|Bromoform||5.7x higher||Cancerous and slows normal brain activities, resulting in sleepiness or sedation occurring quickly after the chemicals enter your body|
|Chloroform||76x higher||Cancerous and causes shortness of breath and irritation of the nose and throat|
|Hexavalent Chromium||2.1x higher||Cancerous, harmful to liver and reproductive system|
|Dibromochloromethane||4.3x higher||Cancerous (bladder and skin cancer) as well as harmful to fetal growth and development|
|Dichloroacetic acid||21x higher||Cancerous and harmful to reproduction and child development|
|Trihalomethanes||253x higher||Cancerous (bladder and skin cancer) as well as harmful to fetal growth and development|
|Trichloroacetic acid||43x higher||Cancerous and harmful to reproduction and child development|
We Strongly Recommend Residents Remove These Contaminants Before Drinking NYC Tap WaterHeather Burton, Waterful.org Lead Technical Manager
The natural reaction to seeing this data on tap water contaminants is to switch to bottled water. Unfortunately, bottled water regulations are even further behind than public water sources! There are less testing requirements, less stringent quality control, and often times unknown sources with even worse contaminants.
The good news is that all of the NYC tap water pollutants are removable by readily available water filters.
Reverse Osmosis is the Best NYC Tap Water Filter Type
We strongly recommend a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Filtration System because it is the most affordable water filter system capable of removing each and every one of the substances listed above. RO systems are also easily installed under sinks so whether you have a home or apartment you can still thoroughly protect your health.
Removes solids smaller than 1 micron to purify drinking water
Introduces calcium, potassium and magnesium into purified water to remineralise it
Reduces over 74 contaminants, metals, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals
Targets chlorine and ammonia via carbon filtration
Tank needs to be maintained and kept clean
Modular all-in-one filter design for easy maintenance
Comes with a complete DIY-friendly installation kit
EPA approved and certified by leading drinking water environmental groups
More expensive than most systems
What About Other Potential Contaminants in NYC Tap Water?
If the Flint Michigan Water Crisis taught us anything over the last few years, it’s not only the source of the water that can cause problems, but the infrastructure that brings that water to your home is extremely vulnerable.
Water utilities must adhere to the Safe Drinking Water Act which requires strict monitoring of the water quality. What it doesn’t require is testing along the way to your home. Like in Flint, a slight change of the pH of the water can cause adverse reactions in the pipes where the lead is stripped away and ends up in your home.
Lead in New York City Tap Water
Prior to 1986, lead was a major component in plumbing fixtures, welding solder, and pipe fittings. We all know that it takes a long time for cities to update their infrastructure, including water supply lines, so there is a strong certainty that a large proportion of pipes in every building contain lead. This is especially true for New York City.
So although the New York Water Service has not shown excessive levels of lead in their tests, it takes a long time and a lot of old pipes for the water to reach your home, providing ample opportunity for lead to contaminate your NYC tap water.
Fortunately, if you follow our recommendation above, quality Reverse Osmosis water filters are capable of completely removing lead from your water and making it safe to drink.
Arsenic in New York City Tap Water
Arsenic is a naturally element in rocks and soil as well as a number of industrial and agricultural processes. It is also a byproduct of copper smelting, mining, and coal burning. It can enter the water supply from these surrounding rocks and soil, especially when ground water levels drop significantly.
Similar to lead, arsenic does not regularly show up in New York City tap water, but an environmental change like a drought or a new factory starting operations near the water source can introduce a large amount of arsenic into the city system.
Once again though, Reverse Osmosis effectively eliminates arsenic from your home’s tap water.
PFAS in New York City Tap Water
Quickly gaining attention in environmental news, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka “Forever Chemicals”) are now being found worldwide, including 98% of every U.S. citizen’s blood.
Unfortunately, regulations have not kept up to restrict the substances from drinking water, including New York City’s. In fact, the New York Water System is not even testing for PFAS, chemicals that have shown to negatively impact human health at microscopic levels (we are talking in the parts per trillion range or, an easier way to portray it, one drop of water in 100 Olympic sized swimming pools!!)
Yet there is still hope to avoid consuming PFAS in your NYC tap water, Reverse Osmosis is one of the few filtration methods that have been effective at removing these tough chemicals.
Additional Contaminants in New York City Tap Water
I wish I could tell you that’s all the pollutants you have to worry about in NYC tap water, but alas there’s more. According the Environmental Working Group, New York Water System has detected the following contaminants at one point in their water system:
- Haloacetic Acids
- Monochloroacetic acid