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Is my drinking water really safe?

Even newer homes may face lead, arsenic contamination

(Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2: Water filters inspire homeowner health.) When I purified three quarts of tap water by distilling it, I got one pitcher of clean water and a residue of gray gunk. Naturally I wanted to know what I had saved my family from ingesting. Harmless mineral salts, my local water authority assured me. If you tried the same experiment, your results would probably be similar. Despite the occasional sensational news story about drinking water contamination–the current one concerns the high lead level in Washington D.C.'s water–American water utilities produce safe drinking water. But, and there is a big but here, the water can become contaminated between the time it leaves a water treatment plant and comes out of your faucet. You may also have contamination issues if your drinking water source is a private well, increasingly a possibility as suburban development and new home building move farther out into rural areas. Ben Grumbles, chief of the...

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