Poison in our water
There are hundreds of contaminants in drinking water. Their regular consumption can wreak havoc to the health of the people leading to either minor ailments or deadly diseases.
Incidence of these poisonous contaminants is not recent. The outbreak of Cholera in Great Britain in the 1840s and arsenic poisoning in the 1970s in Bangladesh are instances of poisonous drinking water that forced change. The threat to health from contaminants is still there. Tests done on water in 42 states in the US showed that it is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards.
With the increased used of chemicals in our daily life, newer and more poisonous contaminants have entered the system.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Many illnesses, contaminants, and injuries can be water, sanitation, or hygiene-related.
- Waterborne diseases are caused by organisms that are directly spread through water.
- More than 700 synthetic organic compounds have been identified in various U.S. drinking water supplies. This contamination originates from a variety of sources, including household products and leakage or improper disposal of chemical wastes from commercial and industrial establishments.
- Estimates suggest that around 200 million people, from among 25 nations the world over, are under the dreadful fate of fluorosis. India and China, the two most populous countries of the world, are the worst affected.
All about poison in water
There are many types of poisonous substances found in the drinking water. The water filtration and distribution system of most cities has not been designed to diagnose many of these. Many of the regular water filters used at home cannot detect these. Some of the very harmful contaminants found in water include:
Types of poison
- Arsenic -- The most common source of arsenic contamination in [ground water]] is the mobilization of naturally occurring arsenic on sediments.
- Lead --The only way to know whether your tap water contains lead is to have it tested. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water.
- Fluoride --The weathering of primary rocks and leaching of fluoride-containing minerals in soils yield fluoride rich groundwater in India which is generally associated with low calcium content and high bicarbonate ions.
- Toxins --Road salt, toxic substances from mining sites, and used motor oil also may seep into groundwater. In addition, it is possible for untreated waste from septic tanks and toxic chemicals from underground storage tanks to contaminate groundwater.
- Heavy metal -- Years of mining for heavy metals has resulted in abandoned mines that are a source of ground- and surface-water contamination in many areas.
- Pesticide -- Pesticide water contamination occurs through Non-degraded pesticides migrating to groundwater. 95 percent of the rural population world over relies on ground water to meet their drinking water need.
- Antibiotics --Antibiotics are widely used in human and veterinary medicines for disease treatment. They are also largely used in animal operations for growth promotion and for disease prophylaxis. They are often partially metabolized after administration and a significant portion of the antibiotic can be excreted
Poison in our drinking water and health
The presence of these contaminants can have harmful impact on the health of the people living in the area.
- Toxoplasmosis, a chlorine-resistant bacteria which causes flu-like symptoms initially, but can spread and cause devastating damage to the delicate neurological network in the brain. It causes blindness, mental retardation and even death.
- Chlorination of water, the process designed to disinfect water can also have adverse effects on health. A mainstay of water treatment, adding chlorine to our supply appears to create chemicals that cause cancer and may injure developing human embryos.
- The health effects associated with some pesticides found in the water are different whether the exposure is acute or chronic. Acute exposure causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, profuse salivation and sweating, blurred vision, skin and eye irritation, upper respiratory tract distress, edema of the lungs, acute gastro-intestinal distress, headache, dizziness, drowsiness and seizure.
- Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae occur worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters. Humans are affected with a range of symptoms including skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage. Swimmers in water containing cyanobacterial toxins may suffer allergic reactions
Poison in our water and the environment
- Animals, birds, and fish can also be poisoned by high levels of toxin-producing cyanobacteria.
- Pharmaceuticals in the water are being blamed for severe reproductive problems in many types of fish.
What can I do?
- We should all use water filters in our homes. Properly installed and maintained, they provide an extra measure of protection and give water that is often safer than bottled water, with far less environmental impact.
- We also need to be more demanding of our water companies. There is better technology available than we are using at the moment, including filter systems that squeeze water through tiny hollow fibres and out through holes 200 times smaller than cryptosporidium.
- Bottled water is adds tons of plastic to our landfill.
- There is a need to use less chemicals in our daily lives.
- Most water-borne diseases kill, ironically, by dehydrating their victims.
- In 2002, U.S. researchers found 82 different pharmaceutical compounds in lakes and rivers. This and other studies have found oestrogen - the female sex hormone - to be one of the most commonly found chemicals.
- It is estimated that in India, 80% of domestic needs in rural areas and 50% in urban areas are met by ground water and is under threat from problems due to excess fluoride, arsenic, iron, nitrate and salinity.
- In just one night in 1847, 3,000 pilgrims died at Mecca in Saudi Arabia by drinking water containing cholera pathogens.
- Millions of Americans may be exposed to a potentially toxic rocket fuel booster that has been found in Las Vegas Valley drinking water, according to a new study. The report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group shows drinking water of more than 7 million Californians and millions of other Americans is tainted with perchlorate, a chemical found to affect human thyroids. The greatest danger is to bottle-fed infants, the study says, because a greater portion of their daily diet comes from tap water.
- More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in surface waters throughout the world.
- Poison in the kitchen...How tap water could damage your brain, blind or even kill you
- Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Review on the Status and Stress Effects
- Unseen and untold: the mass-poisoning of an entire nation: The Independent UK
- Occurrence of Antibiotics in Drinking Water
- Drinking water:USCDC
- Pesticides in Drinking-Water:World Health Organisation
- Water Related Diseases WHO
- What Mobilizes Arsenic in Ground Water?
- Groundwater Contamination Concerns
- Ground-Water Contamination by Heavy Metals -- Tar Creek, Oklahoma
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