Local research lab addresses discrepancies in water contamination levels

(KWES) - "In some cases, it's just not economically feasible to get it to that ultra pure status for the general population, that doesn't mean it's not safe," said Brent Barron, the lab manager of Permian Basin Environmental Lab in Midland, a facility where local water and soil is tested for chemicals.

Barron has been testing water for more than eight years.

"In some cases, people consider the EPA's guideline to be too strict," said Barron.

He says it's no question whether the legal limits for contaminants set by the government-run Environmental Protection Agency are safe.

"I think in some cases they may be a little too stringent and others I think they're right on. They have an army of people studying it all the time," said Barron.

That's why he believes the contaminant level limits a part of the non-profit organization "Environmental Working Group's" health guideline are a bit out of context.

"I believe the EPA's are probably more realistic, especially in area like ours, like West Texas," said Barron.

Though, Barron admits, there is one aspect of local tap water he isn't a big fan of.

"The biggest thing I found is the taste of bottled water is better than the tap water," said Barron.

He says the salty, and at times, musty taste of tap water comes from organic compounds found in lakes.

"They aren't very harmful, they're just unpleasant to drink," said Barron.

As for drinking it himself, he says if there's no bottled water around, he doesn't hesitate to drink from the tap.

"My philosophy has always been after working in water treatment for eight years. I'll always drink tap water," said Barron.

For a full list and more information about those contaminants, visit the EWG's tap water database at https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/index.php#.WneoZa6nEdU.

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