How safe is your tap water?


We always assume the water coming out of our faucet is safe. But how do we really know?According to health experts, there is no way of knowing unless you get it tested. Especially if you have well water. Shortly after the city of Flint switched its water source from the Detroit Water Company to the Flint River, TV5 has received several complaints about the smell and taste of Flint's drinking water.

With those concerns in mind, the TV5 I-TEAM decided to put tap water to the test across Mid-Michigan. We purchased canisters from the Saginaw County Environmental Health Department and labeled them only by number. Lab techs had no idea where the samples were drawn from. We followed strict guidelines in gathering our samples. We removed any mesh screens on the tap and let the water run for at least five minutes.

We filled up two bottles from each source with enough room left so that the testers could shake it up. Afterwards, each bag was filled, sealed, refrigerated and then returned to the health department within 24 hours for testing. All drinking water sources were tested for chloride, fluoride and dangerous substances including E-Coli.When the results came in, there was good news for Saginaw, Bay City and Midland. They all scored within normal ranges and most importantly there were with no signs of E-Coli. How did the Flint drinking water do? Not bad. It also tested negative for E-Coli but the water did test differently from all the rest in two areas. Fluoride which you generally want in your water to protect teeth was undectable in Flint. And the Flint water did have a higher level of sulfates, not inherently bad but according to the health department too much of it could have a laxative effect. Now moving on to the untreated water sample from the Flint River. We know you're not drinking it but we wanted to know what was in the water before it was treated. As you might expect, it tested off the charts. The amount of E-Coli found in the sample could have warranted a county health alert. But our testers remind us this was just one snapshot in time from one location. In the end, no cause for alarm if you drink from city water in Mid-Michigan's major cities. But if you need to ease your mind, your local health department would be glad to test for you like they did for us.

Experts say if you're concerned about the drinking water in your area, just call your local health department and ask if you can bring in a sample to be tested.

Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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