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Keywords:

  • chlorination by-products;
  • radionuclides;
  • methemoglobinemia;
  • MTBE;
  • cryptosporidium;
  • consumer confidence report;
  • maximum contaminant levels

Primary health providers in the community must be able to field questions and guide vulnerable populations to informed decisions about drinking water quality and health. This article offers an overview of selected contaminants in drinking water and their possible effects on the health of women over the life span. Historical concerns for drinking water safety, which led to the development of current drinking water regulations, are briefly explored. Several chemical, microbial, and radionuclide contaminants of particular concern to women and children are discussed. Short- and long-term tap water alternatives are suggested for when tap water is deemed unsuitable for use.