Everyone knows water is a necessity to surviving. What isn’t as well-known is the fact that safe drinking water isn’t as available as many people believe. In the United States, tap water is meant to be accessible and available to all so that everyone has a safe option to drink, shower, and cook with. However, every state has violated the Safe Drinking Water Act many times since its passage in 1974. This is largely because the number of dangerous contaminants found in what’s supposed to be a safe water supply continues to grow. This is caused by water pollution, and it’s a serious threat to the health of everyone. To learn more about how water pollution affects your health, keep reading below.
What Is Water Pollution?
To understand the seriousness behind the growing water crisis, you must have a foundational understanding of what water pollution means. The term “water pollution” refers to the problems that arise when harmful substances, such as chemicals and microorganisms, make their way into different bodies of water. These bodies of water include aquifers, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Water can dissolve more substances than any other liquid. For this reason, it’s known as a “universal solvent.” However, this quality makes it extremely vulnerable to pollution. The toxic chemicals, substances, and debris from farms, factories, and towns can easily dissolve into and mix with the water, producing major water pollution.
Types of Water and How They’re Polluted
Now that you have a foundational understanding of what water pollution is, it’s important to discuss how the different types of water supplies are polluted. This can give you an idea of how humans are interconnected with each other, their societies, and the growing water crisis. Below are a few types of water and how they tend to be polluted.
Groundwater is found in naturally occurring underground storehouses. These develop as rain falls and seeps into the earth. Groundwater is responsible for supplying drinking water to a large number of Americans. The common pollutants responsible for contaminating this kind of water are as follows:
- Natural Sources: Substances in rocks or soils can contaminate groundwater. These substances include iron, manganese, arsenic, chlorides, fluorides, sulfates, or radionuclides.
- Septic Systems: Improperly sited, designed, and maintained septic systems can contaminate groundwater with various harmful substances.
- Hazardous Waste: Household oils and chemicals should be disposed of properly rather than drained into a home’s septic system. Cooking oil, motor oil, gardening chemicals, paint, et cetera can contaminate groundwater. Industrial waste can be even more harmful if not properly disposed of.
- Pesticide and Fertilizers: Fertilizers and pesticides are commonly used in the agricultural industry as well as in municipalities and homes. Because these go into the soil, they can contaminate groundwater.
Getting contaminants out of groundwater is close to impossible. And when groundwater becomes contaminated, it can be unsafe to use for decades.
This kind of water fills the planet’s oceans, lakes, and rivers. Surface water that comes from freshwater sources makes up a large percent of the water used in American homes. The pollutants found in surface water are almost all due to human activity. Things such as agriculture, mining, factories, landfills, and human waste are primary sources of the contaminants found in surface water.
How Water Pollution Affects Human Health
By understanding where your water comes from and how it becomes polluted, you can have a better idea of how drinking this water puts your health at risk. Below are a few of the ways it affects human health.
Waterborne diseases are illnesses caused by microscopic organisms such as viruses and bacteria. The diseases that drinking contaminated water can cause include cholera, giardia, typhoid, Legionnaires’ disease, dysentery, and hepatitis A.
Aside from the waterborne diseases that water pollution causes, drinking unsafe water can also cause a variety of health complications. A few known problems include fertility issues, developmental delays and learning difficulties in children, cancer, gastrointestinal illnesses, and nervous system effects.
Steps to Take
Many people like to blame large oil corporations for oil spills and leaks that end up in our water. However, the truth is that human action causes much of the water pollution that occurs. Now that you’re aware of how water pollution affects your health, you can take the proper steps to combat this. Taking the steps below will lessen your contribution to the problem.
- Reduce your plastic use. Reuse and recycle plastic as much as you can.
- If you use chemical cleaners, oils, or nonbiodegradable items, be sure to properly dispose of them so that they don’t end up down the drain.
- Take care of your vehicle to prevent it from leaking oil and other unsafe car fluids.
- If you have a yard, avoid applying any pesticides or herbicides.
- When you can, use your voice to stick up for what’s right. When it comes to water, be sure your voice is heard. Let your city or town know the importance of providing clean water and being transparent about it.
How To Ensure You’re Drinking Safe Water
If after reading this you feel concerned about the quality of your drinking water, you have a few options to ease your mind.
At-Home Water Analysis Kit
An at-home water testing kit is an easy, affordable way to test the quality of your water. These kits typically involve placing strips in a sample of your home’s water. These strips may change colors to indicate a variety of issues. Each type of kit will test for different things, but you may want to search for kits that specifically test for bacteria, chlorine, lead, nitrates, and pesticides.
Water Filtration System
Another option you have is to invest in a water filtration system. Here at H2O Coolers, we have home water dispenser rentals available in the NYC area. Our home water coolers purify any source of water. as well as boost water alkalinity, enrich your water with nutrients, and fortify it with minerals. Give us a call for more information on how you can protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of water pollution.