Information from the EPA on Contaminants & Information for People with Special Health Needs

Information from the EPA on contaminants in drinking water

Drinking water (even bottled water) may contain small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. For more information about contaminants and the potential health effects, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. About three quarters of Springfield’s drinking water is provided by groundwater wells and the other one quarter is provided by a blend of river and well water that is filtered.

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

  • Inorganics, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.
  • Microbial, such as viruses, and bacteria which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.
  • Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are byproducts of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.
  • Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.
  • Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally-occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

Health information for people with special health needs

To ensure safe drinking water, EPA regulates the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. The Food and Drug Administration establishes limits for contaminants in bottled water to provide the same protection for public health.

Some people may be more vulnerable than others to contaminants in drinking water. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons having undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, infants and some elderly people can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.