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Fairfax, Virginia Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Fairfax, Virginia

Where does Fairfax gets its water from? In Fairfax County, our water comes from two major sources: the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River. The water that flows in the Potomac and Occoquan comes from both groundwater and stormwater runoff. Groundwater is cleaned and cooled when it flows through the soil. Runoff, on the other hand, can carry pollution into our drinking water sources, including sediment from the land, contaminants such as pesticides or motor oil, and organic matter from deceased insects, plants, or animals. Water treatment plants remove these impurities and make the water safe for household use. The Occoquan Reservoir provides drinking water supply to Northern Virginia through the Fredrick P. Griffith treatment plant. This plant can treat up to 120 million gallons of drinking water per day. The Potomac River provides water to area residents through the James J. Corbalis Jr. treatment plant, which can treat 225 million gallons of water per day. Fairfax Water operates both the Corbalis and Griffith treatment plants. In January 2014, Fairfax Water acquired the water systems of the City of Falls Church and City of Fairfax. Portions of these systems rely on water from the Washington Aqueduct. The Potomac River is also the source of water for the Washington Aqueduct, which operates the McMillan and Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plants. These plants together can produce 300 million gallons of water per day. Two million people in Northern Virginia are now served by Fairfax Water.

Source: City of Fairfax, VA

Contaminants Found in Fairfax'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.

Radiological contaminants 

This utility detected Radium, combined (-226 & -228), Radium-226 & Tritium.

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 — 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.

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 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 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.

Health risks of radiological contaminants in excess of health guidelines

Birth defects: Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Health risks of dibromochloromethane  in excess of health guidelines

Cancer & Birth Defects: Dibromochloromethane and other disinfection byproducts increase the risk of cancer and may cause problems during pregnancy.

Contaminant Levels in Fairfax, Virgina Compared to Other Regions

Bromodichloromethane

- Health Guideline: 0.06 ppb

 - State: 3.79 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 7.96 ppb

 - National: 4.38 ppb

Bromoform

- Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - State: 3.23 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 0.411 ppb

 - National: 1.77 ppb

Chloroform

 - Health Guideline: 1.0 ppb

 - State: 16.8 ppb

 - National: 11.4 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 17.8 ppb

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 0.120 ppb

 - State: 0.0462 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

Dibromochloromethane

 - Health Guideline: 0.1 ppb

 - State: 5.78 ppb

 - National: 3.01 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 1.28 ppb

Dichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.7 ppb

 - State: 9.70 ppb

 - National: 6.00 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 8.08 ppb

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 27.9 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 30.5 ppb

Trichloroacetic acid

 - Health Guideline: 0.5 ppb

 - State: 8.69 ppb

 - National: 4.93 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 4.35 ppb

Fluoride

- Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - State: 0.692 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb

 - Fairfax, VA: 0.687 ppb

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April Jones

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

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