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Burlington, Vermont Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Burlington, Vermont

Where does Burlington get its water from? Most of the Burlington, VT community receives their water supply from Lake Champlain. Water is pumped from Lake Champlain to a water treatment plant where it is purified and then pumped throughout the area.

The Burlington Public Works Water Division supplies Burlington with water. Through the Partnership for Safe Water, which is a program supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, water suppliers like the Burlington Public Works Water Division work with federal and state agencies to help protect community members from hazardous material that could make its way into our water.

Water quality standards were developed and enforced under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986, these set national standards to be enforced by the states. Vermont has gained applause on a national basis; in 1998 the Champlain Water District was one of five water suppliers in the nation to gain national recognition by the EPA.

Federal and state standards are based on limits of microbial contaminants, inorganic contaminants, herbicides, pesticides, organic chemical contaminants and radioactive contaminants. The Burlington Community has had considerable problems with contamination from inorganic contaminants such as lead and copper (BFP, 1986). Lead and copper contamination usually happens not as a result from bad practices of the supplier but from contamination that occurs when the water enters the home.

Many pipes used for plumbing and the soldering used to secure those pipes is usually made from lead and copper. Water sitting in pipes over night or stagnant for extended periods of time can become contaminated with harmful levels of lead and copper. Lead can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, impair coordination and is especially harmful to children and pregnant women. Copper on the other hand can cause stomachaches, diarrhea, and serious problems from long-term exposure.

The EPA as well as other municipal authorities urge community members to let the faucet run for 60 seconds to clear contaminated water from the pipes. Furthermore local water suppliers are able to answer questions, give advice and recommend testing methods that can be done easily and inexpensively at home. Contact your local water supplier with further questions. Is Burlington's water safe to drink? Does Burlington put fluoride in the water?

Source: City of Burlington, VT

Contaminants Found in Burlington's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Bromodichloromethane

Bromodichloromethane, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Bromodichloromethane and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Chloroform

Chloroform, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Chloroform and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Dichloroacetic acid

Dichloroacetic acid, one of the group of five haloacetic acids regulated by federal standards, is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Haloacetic acids and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants. The total trihalomethanes group includes four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform.

Trichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acid, one of the group of five haloacetic acids regulated by federal standards, is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Haloacetic acids and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy. 

Fluoride

Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater and is also added to drinking water by many water systems. The fluoride that is added to water is not the naturally occurring kind, the main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry (Gross!). Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes.  Some have hypothesized that community water containing sodium silicofluoride and hydrofluosilicic acid may increase blood lead (PbB) concentrations in children by leaching of lead from water conduits and by increasing absorption of lead from water but further studies are needed.

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of bromodichloromethane in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.4 ppb for bromodichloromethane was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of chloroform in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 1 ppb for chloroform was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of dichloroacetic acid in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.7 ppb for dichloroacetic acid was defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Health risks of trihalomethanes in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of trichloroacetic acid in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.5 ppb for trichloroacetic acid was defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a one-in-a-million lifetime risk of cancer. Values greater than one-in-a-million cancer risk level can result in increased cancer cases above one in a million people.

Contaminant Levels in Burlington, VT Compared to Other Regions

Bromodichloromethane

- Health Guideline: 0.06 ppb

 - State: 1.54 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 4.62 ppb

 - National: 4.38 ppb

Chloroform

 - Health Guideline: 1.0 ppb

 - State: 11.0 ppb

 - National: 11.4 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 39.6 ppb

Dichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.7 ppb

 - State: 5.34 ppb

 - National: 6.00 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 11.2 ppb

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 19.1 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 46.3 ppb

Trichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - State: 6.99 ppb

 - National: 4.93 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 21.0 ppb

Fluoride

- Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - State: 0.239 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb

 - Burlington, VT: 0.547ppb

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April Jones

A hiker, blogger, and water quality expert...

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