Project Authors: Subyeta Chowdhury, Thomas Jimenez, Raheem Sheikh, & Abigail Uchitelev

Potable water in New York City has been tested and deemed safe to drink solely based on federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL). However, health-based regulations are not exactly the same as the MCLs, deeming NYC drinking water not up to par for safe and healthy consumption. The purpose of this study is to evaluate how “safe” the NYC tap water is throughout the five boroughs relative to both the federal limits and health-based guidelines. Specifically, this study tested the parameters: lead, hardness, alkalinity, nitrate, and chlorine. Using water testing strips, the levels of each contaminant are analyzed and compared to the 2021 Federal MCL and Health-Based Guidelines. In Chlorination Byproduct data presented by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the maximum concentration of Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids allowed in the water exceeded the health-safety standards. Moreover, NYC annual testing failed to report the concentrations and limits of chlorate and N-Nitrosodimethylamine, which can be toxic to humans.

Upon analyzing the detected minimum and maximum values for the tested parameters from the NYC Environmental Protection Drinking Water Supply and Quality Reports from 2019-2021, it can be concluded that these measured levels did not violate the MCL, however, the range did come close to the maximum contaminant level allowed for hardness. From the field observations, it was evident each borough retained the same safe results except for slight differences in the nitrate levels (ppm) from the Staten Island and Queens samples, which are still considered “OK” according to the EPA Water Drinking Standards.

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