What Can I Do About Vinyl Chloride In My Drinking Water?

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Worried about cancer-linked vinyl chloride in your drinking water? Read on to discover the dangers associated with this common chemical, why many popular, store-bought filters can’t protect you, and how to get proven protection without sacrificing convenience.

Vinyl Chloride Is A Carcinogenic Gas Found In Plastic & Tobacco Smoke

Vinyl chloride, also known as chloroethene, chloroethylene, or ethylene monochloride, is a colorless gas with a “sweet odor.” It is often used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes as well as other plastic products including coatings and packaging materials. It’s also found in tobacco smoke. 

Due to its impact on public health, vinyl chloride is classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DDHS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA/epa.gov).

Drinking Water Soaks Up Vinyl Chloride Through Industrial Discharge, Landfills, & PVC Pipes

Vinyl chloride can enter our drinking water in a variety of ways, including:

  • Industrial discharge: Facilities that produce PVC can release vinyl chloride into the environment, which can then sneak into our water supply.

  • Landfills: When plastic products containing vinyl chloride, such as PVC, are disposed of in landfills, they can break down over time and release vinyl chloride. Vinyl chloride can then sneak into groundwater.

  • Leaching from PVC pipes: Water systems that transport water through PVC pipes can be in danger of vinyl chloride contamination.

Accidents: The East Palestine Train Derailment is just one recent example.

Contaminated Drinking Water Can Lead To Cancer, Liver Damage, & Birth Defects 

While short-term vinyl chloride exposure can impact the nervous system (causing symptoms such as dizziness, drowsiness, and headache), long-term exposure can lead to liver damage, nerve damage, and an increased risk of liver cancer. 

Evidence from animal studies by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) as well as studies on occupational exposure have indicated that high levels of vinyl chloride may be linked to other health effects, including birth defects.

All 50 States Allow Dangerous Levels Of Vinyl Chloride In Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA has established a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of .002 parts per million (ppm), or 2 parts per billion (ppb), for vinyl chloride in drinking water. In other words, up to 2 ppb of vinyl chloride are legally allowed in public water supplies today. 

Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests that no more than 0.05 parts per billion (ppb) of vinyl chloride be allowed in water to protect the public from cancer. Therefore, our tap water can contain up to 40x the amount of vinyl chloride EWG experts believe can potentially cause cancer.

How To Protect Yourself Against Vinyl Chloride In Your Drinking Water

Let's take a look at the right (and wrong) ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Why Mainstream Carbon Water Filters Rarely Provide Complete Protection

It can be difficult to quantify how effective typical carbon filters are at reducing vinyl chloride because many of them do not have sufficient performance data to prove removal. Plus, removal rates depend on several factors including the concentration of vinyl chloride, contact time, and the specific characteristics of the activated carbon used. 

So though carbon can be effective at reducing vinyl chloride, 

it may only reduce low levels of the contaminant. Either way, there are better, more powerful filtration options available. 

RO Systems Strip Water Of Essential Minerals & Are Linked To Potential Health Risks

Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology was once hailed as the gold standard for water safety. But the truth is, it can do more harm than good. Here’s why:

1. RO systems remove healthy minerals from water (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). This lack of minerals can potentially be linked to conditions like brittle bones, dental issues, and cardiovascular disease. That’s why most RO users “remineralize” their water after it has been filtered. It’s an inconvenient and added step that also adds to your costs. 

2. They can be alarmingly inefficient. Typical RO systems can waste up to 75% of the water they filter. 

3. They have been linked to "dead" water. Said differently, RO-filtered water has been described as "dead," “tasteless,” and “flat.”

Ion Exchange Filters Are Not Designed To Protect You From Vinyl Chloride

Ion exchange filters are primarily designed to remove ions from water, like calcium and magnesium. Since vinyl chloride is an organic compound, not an ion, it likely slips by the vast majority of ion exchange options. 

Distillation Has As Many Drawbacks As RO

Distillation systems can reduce vinyl chloride in water, but they have their own set of concerns: 

  • They aren’t time efficient. A standard countertop distiller could force you to wait up to 6 hours for a single gallon of distilled water.

  • They strip water of healthy minerals. After a lengthy wait for your water, you’re faced with the additional step of remineralization.

  • They can be pricey. The energy required to heat water and run distillation equipment can impact both your utility bills and environmental health.

  • Proper storage is a pain. Distilled water is prone to absorbing impurities. That’s why distilled water should be kept in sealed containers in cool, dark locations.

Ceramic Water Filters Can’t Protect You From Vinyl Chloride

Ceramic filters typically do not remove vinyl chloride from water. Vinyl chloride is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC), whereas ceramic technology, alone, tends to focus on trapping solids, not gasses. 

UV (Ultraviolet) Disinfection Won’t Protect You Either

Ultraviolet disinfection focuses on killing bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in water, not chemicals and compounds like vinyl chloride. 

Boiling Water Does Not Provide Complete Protection

While boiling water can reduce vinyl chloride, it typically does not remove vinyl chloride. 

Bottled Water Is Just As Dangerous As Tap Water

The FDA allows the same amount of vinyl chloride in bottled water as the EPA does in tap water. In other words, even bottled water can contain up to 40x the amount of vinyl chloride EWG experts believe can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Get Proven Protection With Clearly Filtered

Powered by 7 unique filtration medias, our advanced Affinity Filtration Technology protects you from up to 365+ harmful tap water contaminants, including vinyl chloride, without targeting healthy minerals. 

There’s nothing else out there that ensures your water is this clean, safe, and healthy, so you can trust every drop. 

All of our advanced water filters target vinyl chloride in tap water and private well water, so you never have to wonder about this cancer-linked contaminant again. 

If you want proven protection from vinyl chloride and hundreds of other common dangers, upgrade to Clearly Filtered today to get easy access to clean, safe drinking water.


1. Public Health Statement: Vinyl Chloride https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp20-c1-b.pdf

2. Kozisek F. (2004). Health risks from drinking demineralised water. World Health Organization.

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