Is Northern Virginia Drinking Water Safe?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

If you live in Northern Virginia, this blog is for you! We are going to take a deep dive into the levels of contaminants in our drinking water. While the government sets levels of supposed “safety” for drinking water, these levels can still contain things you don’t want in your water.

Government Guidelines

The government guidelines for drinking water seem to be years behind what scientists and public health agencies recommend. The Safe Water Drinking Act was passed 20 years ago and has not been updated since! As you can imagine, in that time span there have been updates to what levels of specific chemicals should be in your drinking water.

You may be thinking, what is the big deal with some added chemicals in my drinking water? Surely, if we’ve been drinking it for all these years, we are fine. Unfortunately, contaminants in your drinking water have been directly linked to issues with fertility, nervous system, hormones, and even in some cases they cause cancer. In Virginia, our levels are 100 times higher than most of the recommended health standards.

What can you do?

The first thing is to check what levels of chemicals have been found in your area’s drinking water. The Environmental Working Group (EWG)Tap Database collects and breaks down this information for you. Here are some links to the common counties in this area:

·        Alexandria

·        Arlington

·        Fairfax

·        Loudoun

·        Prince William

Each page highlights how many contaminants were found, what they are exactly, what level was detected and what each contaminant’s potential side effect is. This is a great starting point for understanding exactly what is in your drinking water. If you don’t see your county above, you can enter your exact zip code here.

Common Contaminants

The following contaminants were found in Northern Virginia counties.


Arsenic is found in the drinking water in Arlington and Alexandria. Arsenic is a naturally occurring poison that is often found in rocks, soil, water, and even in the air. Arsenic can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, and poor cognitive development.

Best filters: reverse osmosis, ion exchange


Bromate is found in the drinking water in Fairfax County. It is formed when water that has bromide is treated with the chemicals ozonation or sodium hypochlorite. Bromate can damage your DNA and cause several types of cancer.

Best filters: activated carbon, reverse osmosis, ion exchange


Dibromochloromethane is found in the drinking water in several counties including, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Prince William. It is colorless and sweet and is formed when chlorine reacts to decomposing plant material. We do not know the full extent of what happens to humans in contact with Dibromochloromethane, but in animals it causes both liver and kidney damage.

Best filters: activated carbon, reverse osmosis


Nitrate is found in the drinking water in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax. Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in drinking water and comes from fertilizer and manure runoff or waste water plants. Ingesting nitrate causes several different kinds of cancer and can be very harmful for a developing fetus.

Best filters: reverse osmosis, ion exchange


Radium is found in the drinking water in Fairfax and is a radioactive element that naturally occurs in water in the ground. Radium increases your risk for several kinds of cancer including bone cancer and skin cancer.

Best filters: reverse osmosis, ion exchange

Water Filters

In order to make your drinking water safe for everyone in your family, we recommend getting your water tested to ensure that the contaminants reported by the EWG show up in your water. This also helps you figure out what kind of water filter (reverse osmosis, ion exchange, or activated carbon) to get for your house.

Once you know what the main contaminants are, you are in a better position to choose the right water filter for your home.

Our tap water is used for so many things: showers, brushing our teeth, washing our dishes, and drinking. It should be safe for every member of our family. Unfortunately, legal does not mean safe.

If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, reach out to Marines Plumbing today. We can help test your water, recommend a water filter, and install it all for you.


More info

More info about plumbers in Fairfax