Water is the source of human life and human sustenance greatly depends on it. We can go several days without food, but not without water. It’s heartbreaking to know that millions around the world don’t have access to this basic need as many of the freshwater sources are threatened by water pollution. And did you know that the quality of water can have a major effect on our health?
Main Sources of Pollution
- acid rain – the result of burning the fossil fuels
- factories dumping into water basins their chemicals
- households and factories discharging raw sewage
- oil spills
- human littering which includes dumping in rivers, lakes and other basins of water litter such as plastics, styrofoam, aluminum and other.
Basically, almost everything that is made as a byproduct of our lives is polluting our drinking water. Governments have issued acts and policies in order to regulate the discharges into the water to minimize pollution. However, many factories still find a way to dump the toxic wastes of their production into basins of water.
Health Effects of Polluted Water
So how does water pollution affect our health? Waterborne diseases account for the deaths of 3,575,000 people a year. Some of the most common waterborne diseases include cholera, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, amoebiasis, and jaundice.
Here’re the most common water contaminants and pollutants.
This is one of the most common water and soil pollutants due to its large use just about everywhere, especially on farms. It helps to keep grass and other plants growing well. However, with rainfall, these chemicals can sip into the soil and go on to pollute water.
Pesticides can damage the nervous system and cause cardiac arrest. It can also cause other health damage, ranging from slight allergic reactions on the skin to the inflammation of the digestive system.
This pollutant is widely known as a poison. Even in small amounts, it can be deadly for both humans and animals. It can also cause damage to plant and fish life.
Arsenic can end up in the water supply when water is passing through rocks which contain trace amounts of arsenic in their makeup. Other potential sources of arsenic in water are fertilizers and other agricultural treatments. With rainfall, arsenic usually leaches into groundwater.
In moderate amounts, arsenic in your water can lead to upset stomach problems, including bloating and inflammation of the digestive system. However, in higher amounts, as we have mentioned above, it can be poisonous. It can cause organ failure and painful convulsions. Also, it’s advised against using water contaminated with arsenic for non-drinking purposes, as it can cause lesions on your skin.
In a lot of places the tap water also contains lead which can also cause a lot of harm. It’s especially true for older homes that were built some decades ago when they didn’t so much about the dangers of lead for our health. Older homes contain lead paint, lead pipes, and also lead fittings.
Lead-contaminated water can lead to lead poisoning which is generally more common in children. The effects take place over time, as the lead amounts keep building up in the body. Health effects can include headaches, nausea, anemia, high blood pressure, and trouble with the kidneys. In the most extreme cases, it can cause death.
This chemical is both naturally found in water and also additionally added by city water companies. Fluoride that is naturally found in water usually comes when water is passing through rocks containing its trace amounts. And companies added fluoride to water supply in order to help people strengthen bones and teeth.
In very small amounts, fluoride is beneficial for your teeth and bones. However, large amounts of fluoride have the opposite effect. It damages the bones and teeth, and causes inflammation of the joints. Being overly exposed to fluoride, the person also puts himself at risk of kidney and skeletal issues.
Small quantities of certain nutrients are necessary in the water, as they help improve human life and well-being. However, again, large amounts can be dangerous. The nutrient overabundance in the tap water is usually the result of the use of fertilizer and pesticides.
Depending on the type of nutrients that is overabundant there can be different health effects that can range from digestive upset to death. Generally, children are more susceptible to these effects, as their bodies are still developing.
Bacteria are usually present in water no matter what. Even when using the best water treatment equipment, some traces of bacteria will still be present. It can come from just about anywhere. They can grow on their own, it can also come from debris in the water supply.
Effects of bacteria in the water can range from a simple cold to more serious effects such E.coli and salmonella.
Nitrates don’t come first to mind when thinking of water pollutants, but they are also a real problem you should look out for.
Nitrates are a natural type of waste from humans and animals. Other sources of nitrates are fertilizers and compost used in farming, and a side effect of a septic system and sewage pollution.
As with other pollutants, nitrates are especially harmful to small children. Babies that are overexposed to nitrates can come down with the blue baby syndrome, in which the bloodstream is unable to properly move oxygen. Without proper treatment, this can lead to permanent damage.
Water can also become contaminated with too much sodium. There are many different potential sources of sodium in tap water. However, the most common source is the use of the road and sidewalk salt to melt the ice in the winter.
An overabundance of sodium in your water isn’t deadly of course, but it can also lead to health problems. It’s especially true for people with high cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions that get highly affected by levels of sodium in your system.
Now that you know about the effects of water pollution on your health, you can start paying closer attention to potential risks of water pollution in the world around you. The first step towards reducing these risks is to start fighting back against water pollution. This means not littering or disposing waste, and bringing awareness to your children and community.
And to make sure that your drinking water is clean in your home, it’s recommended to do a test and then choose an appropriate filtration system, such as a reverse osmosis system, whole house water filter or a faucet water filter.