What is the Water Quality in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?
Compared to other US cities, Bethlehem water quality ranks in the lower-middle range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 15 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Chloroform is at very high levels: 82x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are at extremely high levels: 303x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) are at extremely high levels: 595x health guidelines.
- These are both byproducts of the chlorine treatment process most water supplies go through.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Bethlehem water.
What’s in Bethlehem water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in Bethlehem water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 15 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
9 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Bethlehem water have Lead contamination?
Yes, Bethlehem has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected in 2019 showed concentrations up to 32.0 parts per billion (ppb).
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be removed.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Bethlehem’s water come from?
Bethlehem’s water comes from the Monocacy Creek watershed.
The majority of the 92 EPA assessed water sources in the Monocacy Creek watershed are in Impaired condition. This includes 58 sections of Monocacy Creek itself.
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Bethlehem’s water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Bethlehem can be surprising.
But there are things you can do in your home to clean up your water.
To Remove Lead and Other Contaminants In Your Home:
There is one solution that beats Brita, PUR, and some whole house systems.
- It costs less per gallon.
- Needs fewer filter changes.
- And it doesn’t make your water taste weird.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out the majority of contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 14 of the 15 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Dichloroacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Monochloracetic acid
- Strontium – wiki
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroacetic acid
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.