REPORT: Phila. Drinking Water Contains Contaminants At Levels Above The Legal Limit

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listen.gifFRESH AIR: In part because of overwhelmed sewer systems, human excrement and dangerous chemicals are making their way into our waterways and drinking water. New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg returns to Fresh Air to talk about chemicals in our drinking water, and how the nation’s sewer systems are desperately in need of infrastructure repairs — even if the fix is not exactly politically attractive. An estimated one out of ten Americans is exposed to this unsafe drinking water. Duhigg reports on the “worsening pollution in American waters” — and regulators’ responses to the problem — in his New York Times series, “Toxic Waters.” In researching the series, he studied thousands of water pollution records, which he obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Duhigg previously wrote about businesses’ and investors’ efforts to profit from the growing number of older Americans in his “Golden Opportunities” series for the Times. He is a regular contributor on NPR’s Planet Money Blog, and a recipient of the George Polk Award.

RELATED: Much of Camden’s water supply cannot be accounted for by the company that runs the system, a state audit has found. The company also has collected millions in unapproved tax dollars and failed to protect the water from contamination, the state comptroller said. The loss of 45 percent of the supply provided by Camden’s largest water operator – due to leakage, overflow, meter inaccuracies, and billing errors – is more typical of systems in developing nations, according to the audit released yesterday by the independent Office of the State Comptroller. It exceeds the 10 percent allowed in the 1999 contract with Camden, and results in a loss to the city of $1.7 million annually. MORE

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