According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, approximately 19 million people are affected by contaminated water.

Lauren Wicks

A recent update to the Environmental Working Group's interactive water database found 610 sites across 43 states have contaminated water-affecting an estimated 19 million individuals.

The EWG worked alongside the Social Science Environmental Research Institute at Northeastern University to document publicly known places where a particular set of manufacturing chemicals known as PFAS have contaminated local tap water.

Related: Should You Filter Your Tap Water?

According to the database, Michigan has the most contaminated water sites-a whopping 192-with California and New Jersey at a distant second and third with 47 and 43, respectively. There were six states that didn't have contaminated water: Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and Nebraska.

Check to see if the water in your area is contaminated here.

PFAS are high toxic flourinated compounds made from thousands of manmade chemicals. These chemicals are used in all sorts consumer and industrial applications-anywhere from nonstick cookware to rain jackets to firefighting foam. What's more concerning is the number of companies using PFAS in their products-Nike, Apple, Disney, and The North Face to name a few-and how omnipresent they have become.

These chemicals are persistent in both our bodies and the environment, in part because they don't break down easily and they can accumulate over time. The CDC has referred to PFAS presence in our blood as a "near-universal phenomenon," and even the most environmentally-conscious can't avoid these chemicals. This is a cause for concern as, in sufficient quantities, PFAS are linked to many adverse health outcomes, such as cancer, thyroid disease, reduced childhood immunity, and low infant birth weights.

Related: 4 Scary Chemicals in Your Food (and How to Avoid Them)

While we can do our best to avoid PFAS-containing products, it is of the utmost importance to avoid ingesting the chemicals-and the EWG offers a few solutions. Their site has a Tap Water Database, where one can find a water filter guide for any budget, water filter maintenance, and answers to common questions surrounding water filtration.

If your area shows to have been contaminated, you may want to consider investing in a carbon water filter-like a Brita-at the least. Opting for bottled water isn't always a safe bet-as it is often less regulated than tap water and it not necessarily healthier. Plus, it wreaks serious havoc on the environment. We will continue to keep you updated on water contamination and encourage you to contact your local government if you are concerned about your area's tap.

Related: Bottled Water vs. Tap

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