Chicago, IL

Here’s What You Need to Know About Drinking Water in Chicago, IL

Known contaminants include:

  • Chromium-6
  • Haloacetic acids
  • Dibromoacetic acid
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Nitrate & Nitrite
  • Radium
  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Total trihalomethanes
  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Chloroform
  • Dibromochloromethane

Angel Water’s mission is to bring you healthier and cleaner water for you and your family. We provide this information to educate you about what’s in your drinking water.

recent assessment by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed that Chicago, IL, has many different contaminants in its drinking water.

The EPA tests Chicago’s drinking water. However, they often set no legal limits for the contaminants. Instead, we recommend looking at the limits recommended by the EWG. Based on their standards, there are many high levels of contaminants in Chicago putting people at risk. 

But there is a way to get cleaner and healthier water!

Keep reading if you want to see what contaminants are in the drinking water in Chicago, IL, and how Angel Water can help you make that water cleaner!


Chromium-6 is a carcinogen that forms from industrial pollution. The EPA has found that chromium-6 is present in more than two-thirds of water supplied to Americans.

This carcinogen has been linked to stomach and lung cancer, liver issues, and problems during pregnancy.

The EPA has no legal limit set for chromium-6. In fact, California is the only state that sets a legal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water.

The EWG agrees with the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment that the limit should be 0.02 ppb.

Unfortunately, the EWG found that levels of chromium-6 in Chicago’s drinking water were at 0.2 ppb, or 10x that standard.

Haloacetic Acids

The levels of haloacetic acids found in Chicago’s drinking water are also incredibly high. Haloacetic acids are grouped by five different acids. They are:

  • Monochloroacetic acid
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Monobromoacetic acid
  • Dibromoacetic acid

These acids increase the risk of cancer, along with problems during pregnancy. And because these acids are genotoxic, they induce mutations and cause damage to DNA.

The EPA states that levels of haloacetic acids in drinking water should not exceed 60 ppb. However, the EWG believes that is too high. Their set standard is no more than 0.1 ppb.

As of 2017, Chicago’s haloacetic acid levels are at 10.5 ppb, or 105x the EWG limit.

Water was also tested for the individual acids. The EPA does not have a legal standard for the individual acids found in water. However, the EWG found three out of the five acids exceeded their own guidelines. They are:

Dibromoacetic Acid

The EWG states that levels of dibromoacetic acid should not exceed 0.04 ppb.

As of 2017, the levels of dibromoacetic acid found in Chicago’s drinking water is 0.765 ppb. That is 19x the EWG guidelines.

Dichloroacetic Acid

According to the EWG, the amount of dichloroacetic acid safe for drinking water is 0.2 ppb. Unfortunately, the drinking water in Chicago tested at 5.22 ppb, or 26x the EWG guideline.

Trichloroacetic Acid

The EWG sets its own guideline for levels of trichloroacetic acid at 0.1 ppb, which was proposed in 2020.

Testing for the City of Chicago in 2017 found trichloroacetic acid levels to be at 4.48 ppb. That is 45x the new EWG standard.


Nitrate and Nitrite

Some states, including Illinois, will test water for both nitrate and nitrite combined. Nitrite also enters your water from fertilizer and urban runoffs and septic tanks. Nitrite is also more toxic than nitrate.

In areas with higher than EPA standard levels of nitrate and nitrite, water utilities will have to install specialized treatments to remove the contaminations.

Currently, the EPA standard for nitrate and nitrite is 10 ppm.

The EWG states it should not exceed 0.14 ppm. Like just nitrate, Chicago’s levels of nitrate and nitrite combined are at 0.354 ppm, or 2.5x the EWG standard.

Radium (-226 and -228)

Radium is a radioactive element that occurs naturally in groundwater. Oil and gas activities, such as hydraulic fracking, often increase radium levels.

The two most common forms of radium are called radium-226 and radium-228. Areas will often report these two contaminants together. The EWG shows these levels combined for Chicago.

Higher levels of the two forms of radium contribute to bone cancer, kidney damage, and congenital defects.

The EPA calls for levels of 5 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or lower in drinking water. The EWG, in agreement with the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, sets its standard at 0.05 pCi/L or less.

As of 2017, levels of radium-226 and radium-228 in Chicago’s water tested at 0.67 pCi/L, or 13x the EWG standard.

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

The total trihalomethane levels in Chicago are also alarmingly high. Total trihalomethanes are made up of four other chemicals. They are:

  • Chloroform
  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Dibromochloromethane
  • Bromoform

These toxins are formed as byproducts of chlorine and other disinfectants used to treat drinking water.

Health risks for total trihalomethanes include bladder cancer and liver, kidney, and intestinal tumors.

It can also lead to pregnancy problems, including spontaneous miscarriage, cardiovascular defects, neural tube defects, and low birth weight.

The EPA states that the levels of these four contaminants combined should not exceed 80 ppb (parts per billion).

The EWG set its own standard at 0.15 ppb.

Levels of the total trihalomethanes in Chicago’s water tested for 21.6 ppb, or 144x the EWG limit.

The EPA also does not place a legal limit on the individual chemicals that make up the total trihalomethanes. Testing of Chicago’s water found three out of the four chemicals to exceed EWG health guidelines. The only one that did not was bromoform.


The EWG sets its standard at 0.06 ppb. Water in Chicago tested for 7.60 ppb. It is 127x the EWG health guideline.


The EWG states that chloroform should not exceed 0.4 ppb. In the 2017 study, however, the EWG found levels were at 9.7 ppb. This is 24x higher than the set guideline.


Levels of dibromochloromethane should not exceed 0.1 ppb, according to the EWG. As of 2017, Chicago’s water contained levels at 4.32 ppb, or 43x the EWG standard.

How to Prevent Contaminants from Chicago’s Water

The contaminants listed above are the ones that exceed the EWG’s guidelines for safe drinking water. But there are more toxins in Chicago’s drinking water, including barium, strontium, and vanadium.

Is there a way to prevent these toxins from getting into your drinking water? Yes, there is!

Angel Water’s mission is to make water cleaner and healthier for you and your family!

You can stop contamination in your water with one of our NSF certified water filters. These filters block toxins from getting into your drinking water, which means it is safer to drink!

We Can Help You Get Cleaner Drinking Water in Chicago, IL!

At Angel Water, we want to provide you with the best possible information so that you understand what’s in your drinking water. Do you want to know more? Try Water Wizard, our free online water assessment quiz!

Do you want a water filtration system that keeps contaminants out of your drinking water? We want to help you! Stop by Angel Water or give us a call at 847-382-7800 to see about getting the best filter for you!

Try the Water Wizard

From the comfort of your own home, analyze your water using the inspection tricks of the trade with our Water Wizard.