Asbestos in Drinking Water: What You Need to Know 2024

If you are concerned about your drinking water and its possible levels of asbestos, it is wise to talk to your doctor. Asbestos was once a common building material, and your drinking water may contain very low levels of it. If you are thinking about asbestos in drinking water and what you need to know about it, understand that there is essential information that can help you.

The government has a strict limit for asbestos in drinking water, and water suppliers are required to monitor the level of asbestos in their water. The following guide is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Questions about your health or possible asbestos exposure should be directed to a medical professional.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that can break into tiny fibers. It was once commonly used in construction and insulation for buildings and other products. While asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye, if they are inhaled or ingested, they can cause severe issues. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to many ailments, including mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

Can Asbestos Be Found in Drinking Water?

Asbestos can be found in drinking water, but it typically manifests at low levels. Drinking water can have asbestos when the minerals dissolve in source water, or asbestos-containing materials deteriorate in water treatment plants. Both of these cases are rare.

How Common Is It to Find Asbestos in Drinking Water?

Health organizations believe that people worldwide consume drinking water with minimal levels of asbestos. In the United States, a federal environmental agency sets the maximum contaminant level for asbestos at seven million fibers per liter. These fibers are those that are ten micrometers long or more. This amount is rarely if ever, reached in average drinking water.

While some people may have been exposed to higher amounts of asbestos in their drinking water in the past, there are mandates requiring that water suppliers monitor and treat their water to keep asbestos levels as low as possible.

Potential Health Risks

The health risks of drinking asbestos-containing water are not well-studied or understood. Some people may suggest that there is a link between drinking asbestos-containing water and developing certain cancers, but conclusive evidence has not been found. Your potential health risks will likely depend on the level of asbestos in your water and the time that you have spent ingesting it.

Who Is at the Highest Risk for Drinking Asbestos?

The risk of asbestos in drinking water is low for most people. Even so, some groups may be more susceptible to asbestos exposure and asbestos-related illnesses. Infants and young children can be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of general toxins, including asbestos. Pregnant women may also want to proceed with caution when drinking water that contains asbestos. Asbestos exposure can potentially harm a developing fetus.

Asbestos Exposure Symptoms

Asbestos exposure does not guarantee that your body will develop an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos exposure symptoms are also known to not occur until many years after the initial exposure. Possible symptoms that may develop later are:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chronic coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplainable weight loss

Testing for and Detecting Asbestos in Drinking Water

There is no simple way to home-test for asbestos in your drinking water. Contact your local water supplier if you are concerned about asbestos in your drinking water. Since they have a requirement to test and treat for asbestos, they should be able to provide you with information about the test results.

Reducing Drinking Water Asbestos

If you seek to reduce asbestos or other toxins from your drinking water, you can try:

  • Filtration: Some water filters can remove asbestos fibers. Look for a certified filter that is known to remove asbestos.
  • Boiling: Boiling water for an extended period can kill bacteria and limit asbestos levels. However, this method is not guaranteed to remove asbestos.

What to Do If You Are Concerned About Asbestos in Your Water

If you find that the asbestos in your drinking water is higher than the recommended threshold, your water supplier must reduce the levels. While the reduction takes place, you may want to find alternative drinking water sources.


Q: What Happens If You Drink Water With Asbestos in It?

A: The results are unclear if you drink water with asbestos in it. While some people exposed to asbestos in drinking water have higher-than-average death rates from esophageal, intestinal, or stomach cancer, it is difficult to determine if the cancer is from asbestos or something else. Asbestos is known to be a human carcinogen. It is inadvisable to drink water with known asbestos in it.

Q: Can You Test for Asbestos in Water?

A: Testing at home for asbestos in your water is difficult. If you are concerned about the level of asbestos in your water, contacting your local water supplier can be wise. Since they have a requirement to test and treat their water, they should have answers about the levels of asbestos and how they manage it.

Q: How Much Asbestos Is Allowed in Water?

A: The amount of asbestos allowed in water is much less than you may expect. Asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye and are tough to detect without proper equipment. While, in the past, people may have been exposed to higher levels of asbestos in their drinking water, all drinking water providers are now required to monitor and reduce their asbestos levels.

Q: How Do You Analyze Asbestos in Water?

A: Analyzing asbestos in drinking water is nearly impossible at home. If you seek to check the amount of asbestos in your drinking water, contact your local water supplier. The law requires the supplier to test, treat, and monitor the asbestos levels of their drinking water. You can also contact a qualified plumber who has the proper equipment to measure asbestos levels.

Who to Contact If You Have Been Exposed to Asbestos

Although it is uncommon to have high asbestos exposure from drinking water, depending on your profession, you may be exposed to asbestos in another way. If you have an exposure and are wondering what to do next, contact Wallace & Graham after consulting your doctor.

If you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis or develop another asbestos-related ailment, let us know. We can work to protect your rights and get you the compensation you need.