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Columbus, Ohio Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Columbus, Ohio

Where does Columbus get its water from? The City of Columbus water system uses surface water from the Scioto River and Big Walnut Creek, as well as ground water pumped from sand and gravel deposits of the Scioto River Valley. All three sources of water have a relatively high susceptibility to contamination from spills or releases of chemicals. The ground water pumped at the Parsons Avenue plant is susceptible (compared to other ground water systems) because there is no significant clay overlying and protecting the aquifer deposits. The Scioto River and Big Walnut Creek are even more susceptible because they are more accessible and less protected from spills. The drinking water source protection areas for the City of Columbus’ three water sources contain numerous potential contaminant sources, especially the protection area for the Dublin Road Water Treatment Plant (extending along the Scioto River). These include industrial activities, storm water runoff from developing areas, and a heavily traveled transportation network running alongside and over the water bodies. Run-off from agricultural fields is a concern in both the Scioto River and Big Walnut Creek watersheds.

The City of Columbus treats the water to meet drinking water quality standards, but no single treatment protocol can address all potential contaminants. The City has been proactive in pursuing measures to further protect its source waters. These include land stewardship programs and incentive-driven programs to reduce erosion and run-off of pesticides and fertilizers into the Scioto River and Big Walnut Creek and their reservoirs.  Is Columbus' water safe to drink? Does Columbus put fluoride in its water?

Source: City of Columbus, OH

Contaminants Found in Columbus, Ohio'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.

Bromoform

Bromoform, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water. Bromoform 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.

Chromium (Hexavalent)

Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater.

Dibromochloromethane

Dibromochloromethane, one of the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), is formed when chlorine or other disinfectants are used to treat drinking water.

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.

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 — moreso 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.

Nitrate

Nitrate, a fertilizer chemical, frequently contaminates drinking water due to agricultural and urban runoff, and discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and septic tanks.

Radiological contaminants

Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. No standards exist for this contaminant. 

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. 

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 Bromoform in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.5 ppb for bromoform was proposed in 2018 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 Dibromochloromethane in excess of health guideline 

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


Health risks of Chromium (Hexavalent) in excess of health guideline

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.02 ppb for chromium (hexavalent) was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

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 Nitrate in excess of health guideline

Cancer:  The health guideline of 0.14 ppm for nitrate was defined in a peer-reviewed scientific study by EWG and corresponds to one-in-one-million annual cancer risk level.  Excessive nitrate in water can cause oxygen deprivation in infants and increase the risk of cancer.

Health risks of Radiological contaminants in excess of health guideline

Cancer & Fetal Development:  Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.  

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 Columbus, OH Compared to Other Regions

Bromodichloromethane

- Health Guideline: 0.06 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 9.61 ppb

 - National: 4.36 ppb

Bromoform

- Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 2.09 ppb

 - National: 1.77 ppb

Chloroform

 - Health Guideline: 1.0 ppb

 - National: 11.4 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 31.7 ppb

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 0.207 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

Dibromochloromethane 

  - Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb 

 - Columbus, OH: 3.62 ppb

Dichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.7 ppb

 - National: 6.00 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 17.9 ppb

Fluoride

 - Health Guideline: No standards exist

 - National: 0.437 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 0.907 ppb

Nitrate

 - Health Guideline: 0.14 ppb

 - National: 1.01 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 4.81 ppb

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 47.0 ppb

Trichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - National: 4.93 ppb

 - Columbus, OH: 15.8 ppb

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April Jones

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

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