Asbestos in Drinking Water

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We drink water because we see it as a pure substance, needed by our bodies to flush out toxins and to keep our bodies running strong. However, many people do not realize that drinking water can be infused with asbestos from bad piping. Instead of helping your body, drinking water tainted with asbestos can actually cause severe health problems such as cancer.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the dangers of asbestos in construction. Asbestos was used throughout buildings for everything from vinyl floors to insulation to ceiling tiles. Truly, asbestos had the potential to completely surround you. However, beginning in the 1970s, people began to call for the banishment of asbestos due to the number of health problems that it caused.

Asbestos has been linked to a multitude of disorders, including various cancers such as lung, throat, esophageal, colorectal, gastrointestinal, kidney, gallbladder, and mesothelioma. Additionally, it can cause diseases such as asbestosis, pleural plaques, and pleural effusions. These diseases can result from inhaling or ingesting asbestos.

The reason why asbestos is so harmful is because it is a carcinogen that mutates our DNA. Additionally, instead of being broken down by our bodies and flushed out, asbestos fibers get lodged in our tissues, where they can stay forever. Our bodies must form protective nodules around the fiber strips, but sometimes this is not enough.

Drinking water with asbestos in it makes you especially susceptible to cancers relating to the mouth, throat, and digestive system. This material can get into drinking water when water-transporting items containing asbestos degrade over time. Specifically, old water mains were often built of asbestos and cement. Through time, the cement starts to break down and release asbestos into the water supply.

To protect people against asbestos in the drinking water, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974. This allowed the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to set standards on the amount of asbestos allowed into the water supply. The EPA set goals to reduce the spread of this carcinogen in the water, called the maximum contaminant level goals, or MCLGs.

However, the MCLGs were not directly enforceable by the EPA since they were just goals. Thus, the EPA also set standards called the maximum contaminant level, called MCL. Now, the MCL and the MCLG are at the same level-7 MFL. This allows the EPA to periodically review the asbestos content in the drinking water.

Although the EPA now has the ability to regulate asbestos in the drinking water supply, many pipes still may be leaching asbestos into your drinking water. This can cause you to develop cancer. If you or someone you know has contracted asbestos-related cancer due to illegal asbestos exposure, you should speak to an attorney about your rights.

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