Water Quality in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Watershed: Streets Run – Monongahela River
What is the water quality like in Pittsburgh, PA?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Pittsburgh water.
What’s in Pittsburgh water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your 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 16 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
8 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Pittsburgh’s water come from?
Pittsburgh’s water comes from the Streets Run – Monongahela River watershed.
77 of the 84 EPA assessed water sources in the Streets Run – Monongahela River watershed are in Impaired condition. These include:
- Crooked Run – 4 segments
- Glass Run
- Homestead Run – 3 segments
- Monongahela River – 10 segments
- Nine Mile Run – 4 segments
- Streets Run – 11 segments
- Thompson Run – 6 segments
- Turtle Creek
- Unnamed tributaries to the Monongahela River, Streets Run, and Thompson Run – over 20 waterbodies
- West Run – 3 segments
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 Pittsburgh’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 12 of the 16 contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 15 of the 16 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:
- 1,4-Dioxane – “Exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.”
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Bromodichloromethane – health risks in drinking water
- Chloroform – side effects
- Chromium (total)
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- 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://pittsburghpa.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.