Seven Overlooked Effects Of Drinking Contaminated Water

January 23, 2019

If you have been following the news over the past couple of years, you will no doubt be familiar with the situation going on in Flint, MI. The city of Flint has been absolutely besieged by issues relating to their drinking water. The genesis of the issue in Flint goes back to the city’s decision to use a water pipeline from the Flint River. The EPA got involved and found that there were dangerous contaminants in the water and that is how the crisis sits to this day. 

What the situation in Flint serves to show is simple: contaminated water can become a part of your life even if you avoid common contaminated sources. In fact, even without changing your water intake routine, you can run into issues due to contaminated water. Before we begin to talk about the online water filtration products available to you, let us first talk about some of the key issues that people who drink contaminated water can possibly face. 

Dealing With Contaminated Water 

Before we dig too deeply into the impact of drinking contaminated water, let us first lay out some groundwork for what contaminated water actually is. If the first impression that you get when discussing contaminated water is a dirty pond or a ditch filled with water, you are not quite on the right track. In fact, contaminated water can be broken down into four different categories, each of which you could come across in your day-to-day lives. These four categories are as follows: 

1) Biological – Otherwise known as a microbiological contaminant, biological contaminants refer primarily to living organisms in your water supply. When we talk about living organisms we are not talking about, say, fish. Instead, we are talking about bacteria, mold, viruses and even parasites. 

2) Radiological – Radiological contaminants in your water supply can be serious cause for concern. In fact, radiological contaminants are often times deadly. Typically when discussing this demographic of contaminant, we are talking about cesium, plutonium, uranium, and more. It is exceedingly rare that you will ever accidentally ingest water that is contaminated with these specific issues. 

3) Chemical – Chemical contaminants are typically derived from compounds and elements that are man-made, though naturally occurring chemical contaminants also exist. This category typically includes bleach, salt, and nitrogen. Improper waste disposal into public water supplies can lead to issues in this specific category. 

4) Physical – Finally, physical contaminants are identifiable by eye. If you know what you are looking for, you will be able to notice the most common physical water contaminants: sediment, organic build-up, organic matter due to soil erosion, and so on. 

How Does Water Become Contaminated 

If you live in a first world country, you would think that the odds of dealing with contaminated drinking water would be slim. While the odds are greatly reduced in countries where regulations are enforced, such as those regulations via the EPA in the United States, there are no perfect protections. There are several different ways that you could come across contaminated drinking water in your life, irrespective of the impact of a governing body like the EPA. They are as follows: 

1) Natural Disasters – Hurricane Harvey is the perfect example of how a natural disaster can impact drinking water. During hurricanes, communities have to work together in order to avoid contaminated water that is a byproduct of the natural destruction in the region. During natural disasters, agencies like the Water Agency Response Network (WARN) will work together to help navigate the dangers of contamination. 

2) Illegal Waste Disposal – Companies all around the world seek to undercut regulations in order to protect their bottom line. In many instances, you can read about corporations that dump their harmful waste into public water supplies — illegally, we might add. Once these contaminants are poured into the water, such as a river or lake, the entire supply may become contaminated. Fish and other wildlife will suffer and anyone who drinks the water will suffer, as well. Common contaminants can even include herbicides and pesticides from local farms. 

3) Nature Borne Diseases – There are going to be times when a biological source can be blamed for a contaminated water supply. If an animal dies in a water source, for example, said water source will become ground zero for a host of potential issues derived from the biological source. 

4) Failing Pipelines – Finally, such as the case with Flint, old or poorly constructed piping could lead to chemical contaminants in the water. Lead, for example, is a prominent chemical component that can be found in water supplies throughout the world. Regulatory agencies all over the country are in charge of monitoring the safety and drinkability of public water supplies. 

Seven Overlooked Effects Of Drinking Contaminated Water 

Now that we have an idea as to what contaminated drinking water is, and where it comes from, we can talk a little bit about the potential impact it will have. The severity of a person’s reaction to contaminated drinking water will vary based on a number of different factors, including overall health and the source of the contamination. However, there are seven effects that almost all healthy individuals will experience when dealing with contaminated drinking water: 

1) Intestinal Cramping

2) Gastrointestinal Complications 

3) Nausea and Vomiting 

4) Prolonged Diarrhea 

5) Food Poisoning From Sources Such As E.Coli 

6) Severe Dehydration 

7) Death 

As can be clearly seen, it is all too important to make sure that the water that we are drinking is safe and clean from any potential contaminants. Fortunately, most environmental and federal regulatory agencies are great at what they do. However, you must also practice your own brand of awareness when dealing with potentially contaminated water. Pay attention for obvious signs and opt to buy bottled water if you have any potential concerns while a regulatory agent diagnoses the water. In some extreme cases, entire towns can be placed under a water emergency or ‘water boil’ warning in order to offset specific problems from contaminants in the water supply

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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