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Top Three Contaminants in Drinking Water in California

In California’s sunlit landscapes, an alarming truth emerges—approximately one million residents live in areas where water systems don’t meet clean drinking water standards. Staggeringly, more than 300 of the state's water systems exceed permitted levels of contamination; this poses a grave concern for the safety of the water supply. Thus, it leaves many people worried about the quality of their drinking water.

Let's take a closer look to uncover the top three contaminants hiding in California's drinking water. 


Arsenic is a silent but worrisome substance in California’s waters. This element can prove quite fatal, though it is colorless and tasteless. Basically, arsenic permeates naturally into groundwater through surrounding rocks and soil. Nevertheless, long-term exposure to any given amount of arsenic contained in drinking water may cause severe health issues, including skin problems, cardiovascular disorders, and increased vulnerability to specific types of cancer.

Certain areas in California struggle to deal with higher levels of arsenic and hence require special attention when monitoring water quality. Arsenic contamination cannot be tackled by traditional means like coagulation or filtration alone. Implementing advanced technologies, such as reverse osmosis systems, can be a more effective solution. 

However, navigating the delicate balance between affordability, accessibility, and efficient treatment methods poses a challenge, particularly for smaller water systems striving to furnish arsenic-free water to their communities. In the pursuit of safeguarding public health, the complex landscape of arsenic contamination demands thoughtful consideration and strategic solutions within the realm of water management.


Nitrate contamination poses a significant challenge, particularly for households situated in agriculturally active regions. Originating from sources such as fertilizers, septic systems, and animal waste, nitrates permeate the groundwater, adversely impacting water quality. While adults may tolerate moderate levels of nitrates, the vulnerability of infants to elevated levels raises concerns. This is because it can lead to methemoglobinemia, commonly called "blue baby syndrome," affecting the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

Integrating advanced technologies such as ion exchange or biological denitrification is a viable solution to remediate contaminated water supplies effectively.

1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP)

Another significant concern in California's drinking water landscape is the presence of 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP). This chemical, reminiscent of a historical era when it was employed to combat soil pests, has secretly made its way into the groundwater, compounding our challenges in maintaining water quality. Overexposure to 1,2,3-TCP poses notable health risks, elevating the likelihood of certain cancers and instigating adverse effects on the liver and kidneys.

Addressing the presence of this substance necessitates a strategic, long-term approach. Sophisticated methods, such as advanced filtration systems or activated carbon, can effectively mitigate the issue. Furthermore, an important aspect of safeguarding our water supply involves disseminating information regarding the associated risks linked to legacy industrial sites. Ensuring the proper cleanup of these sites is paramount to upholding the safety and integrity of our water sources.

Elevate your water quality with McCowin Water Inc.! Explore our advanced filters, designed for purity and reliability. Take the first step towards cleaner water by scheduling your free water analysis today. Contact us today for a refreshing and safe hydration experience.

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