The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Don’t Drink the Water—Practically Anywhere!

Feb 14, 2022

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that addresses clean water issues, says the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to keep its standards of dangerous levels of chemical contaminants in drinking water up-to-date, as well as to identify what should be a growing list of new contaminants. They point out the EPA has not set a new tap water standard in almost 20 years, with some of their standards more than four decades old.

The EWG has compiled a list of 56 new contaminants that have been identified in just the past two years, for example, and created a searchable database for every zip code in the U.S.

The Metro Times, a Detroit weekly newspaper, identified a long list of toxic chemicals in the drinking water of many communities all across the Detroit metro area. They point out that the list includes chemicals linked to cancer, brain damage, liver disease, birth defects, hormone and nervous system disruptions, among other serious health issues.

They determined the Detroit water system contains levels exceeding the EWG’s safety limits of contaminants like radium, which is radioactive, nitrate, hexavalent chromium, haloacetic acids, and trihalomethanes, all hazardous and cancer-causing chemicals.

Detroit is hardly alone, however. The Metro Times found that radium levels in most communities around Detroit were even higher than Detroit’s. At least 10 communities have higher levels of hexavalent chromium than in Detroit’s water. Even those living in more affluent communities are not immune from exposure to dangerous chemicals in their drinking water. And what is true for the Detroit area is true for just about anywhere else in the country.

It should not be surprising that municipal water systems have not updated their technologies to keep anyone’s drinking water safe, nor that the government agencies charged with the responsibility for monitoring water safety have failed to do so. The wealthy class and corporations that rule this society have pushed aside efforts to maintain every aspect of its infrastructure in its drive to deliver short-term profits, and the drinking water upon which everyone’s lives depend is no different.

It should not be the responsibility of individuals nor even individual communities to keep our water safe to drink, but it would be a pipe dream to expect a government run by politicians who serve that same ruling class to do so. There is no other solution than for the working class to take the power out of their hands.