Pregnant woman drinking waterA study recently published in the Canadian Journal of Economics, done in conjunction with Princeton University, found that contaminated water can be even more dangerous to unborn babies than previously thought.

The study examined the birth records and drinking water quality tests over ten years in New Jersey. Researchers looked at statistics regarding infants' health, date of birth, and maternal characteristics. They then compared that to water violation information from almost 500 water districts across New Jersey.

Water municipalities and suppliers are required by the Environmental Protection Agency and their state to do specific tests for contaminants. If contaminant levels are above set standards, they are required to notify customers. However, these notifications can often be overly technical or may get lost in the mail–the usual method of notification.

This study is the first of its kind to look at the effects of water contamination and pollution on pregnant women and babies in utero. The scientists found that women who consumed contaminated water were more likely to have premature births or to have babies with low birth weights. These low birth weights affect not only the infant's immediate health, but can have lasting effects as the infant struggles to catch up both intellectually and physically. The study argued that low birth weight babies could even have developmental cognative problems that do not apply to other infants.  

But what contaminants were in the water? The study found that everything from dangerous pesticides to chemicals and even fecal bacteria could be present in the women's tap water. While researchers are not sure precisely which contaminants had a larger effect, they do warn that pregnant women should be aware of the risks of drinking tap water. Each water source can have different contaminants that will be affected by the water source, the treatment methods, and even the condition of the delivery pipes.

How can you find out what's in your water? There are several ways to find out what contaminants may be in your water, whether municipal or well water. Each region, county, and state may have different water contaminants. There are a few ways to ascertain what is in your water. First, you can contact the EPA for regional information. Purdex is another new resource for city specific information. However, a well is not under any state or federal regulations. The owner of the well is the one responsible for the quality of the water. Second, you can test the water. This can be done by sending a sample off to a lab or testing the water at home. If you are concerned about the quality of your water, contact our water experts, who would be happy to help you select the best water solution for your family's needs.

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