What is the Water Quality in Missoula, Montana?
Compared to other US cities, Missoula water quality ranks in the middle range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 28 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Arsenic is at extremely high levels: 186x health guidelines.
- Radium is at very high levels: 15x health guidelines.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Missoula water.
What’s in Missoula water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in Missoula water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Radium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 28 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
10 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Missoula water have Lead contamination?
Yes, Missoula has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected in 2019 showed concentrations up to 14.0 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 Missoula’s water come from?
Missoula’s water comes from the Clark Fork River – Marshall Creek watershed.
All 6 EPA assessed water sources in the Clark Fork River – Marshall Creek watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Bitterroot River – Impaired
- Blackfoot River – Unknown
- Clark Fork River – Multiple sections impaired
- Grant Creek – Impaired
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 Missoula’s water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Missoula 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 25 of the 28 contaminants in your whole house, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your home.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Arsenic – health risks
- Barium – health risks
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks
- Chloroform – health risks
- Chromium (total)
- Dibromoacetic acid
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
*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.ci.missoula.mt.us/ to find contact information for your local officials.