Water quality is an important topic of discussion when it comes to your overall health. Water is essential to life. We all know this and have probably heard the statement more times than we can count. But, how many times have you stopped while drinking a glass of water and wondered if the water you are drinking is safe for consumption? Probably not many! The truth is that while we don’t think about it as often as we should, water quality is something we should all be thinking about regularly.
Why? Because poor water quality can negatively impact our overall health. Have you ever been sick and had no indication what the cause of your illness was? Water pollution can cause major health problems that can lead to serious illness. The chance of getting sick from polluted water is extremely high. That’s why you should worry about your drinking water quality and take the necessary steps to make sure your water is safe.
Let’s look at the most common causes of concern for your water quality and how you can prevent illness, improve your drinking water quality, and ensure your entire family is safe from harmful water pollution.
How Does Water Quality Affect Our Health?
Water is the most abundant substance on the planet. The Earth is made up of more water than it is land, and our bodies work the same way. We don’t only require water to survive, we, as humans, are made up primarily of water. So, it’s no surprise that our water quality can greatly impact our overall health.
As more and more sources of fresh water are damaged and destroyed by water pollution, the effect of poor water quality on humans continues to rise. So, what causes our water to become contaminated? And, how can we help make positive changes with our water supply to prevent disease, illness, and even death?
There are several sources of contamination that can impact your water quality. They are:
- Pesticides. These are the most common pollutants that affect our water supply. Pesticides are used everywhere to keep our grass growing and green and harvest many plants. Just think about all the beautiful green lawns you pass on a daily basis. Residential lawns, golf courses, and farms are a common source of pesticides. When these pesticides runoff their original source from rainfall, they seep into the soil and pollute groundwater. They can even sometimes run directly into surface water supplies. Depending on the type of chemicals used, pesticides can cause a major impact on your health. From skin rashes and allergic reactions to digestive issues, cardiac arrest, and even death, pesticides are dangerous when they come into contact with our water.
- Nutrients. Although you may think nutrients are something that should improve your health, certain types of nutrients can be dangerous in large quantities. Agriculture, fertilizer, and pesticides can lead to a dangerous overabundance of nutrients. Their impact can range from upset stomach to death. And since younger children are still developing, they face an increase risk when it comes to nutrient contamination.
- Sewage and Septic Systems. This is probably not a surprise but a major source of poor water quality is from contamination from sewage and septic systems. If human waste seeps into nearby soil, it can lead to groundwater contamination. This can lead to serious illness such as hepatitis and dysentery. Bacteria like E. coli can be present in your water from this type of contamination. Water contaminated with this type of pollution can be deadly to consume, especially when it comes to elderly persons or children and infants.
- Arsenic. This well-known water contaminant is widely known as poison. Even in small amounts, consuming arsenic can be deadly. Because arsenic is naturally present in groundwater, it often leaks into well water supplies and affects the water quality from that source. In moderate amounts, arsenic can lead to problems with the digestive system. In high amounts, arsenic can be poisonous and lead to organ failure and death. When touching the skin, it can also cause welts and lesions.
- Lead. Lead poisoning should be no new topic for your knowledge base. You may have heard of the negative effects of lead poisoning from lead paint or lead based pencils. When lead is present in water, it can cause a lot of health problems. Lead enters water supply from products such as lead paint, lead pipes, and lead fittings that were used years ago before its negative impact was realized. Consuming water that has lead traces can lead to lead poisoning. While lead poisoning is more common in children than adults, continue exposure can affect adults as well. Common symptoms of lead in water are headaches, nausea, memory problems, confusion, anemia, kidney issues, and in serious cases, death.
- Fluoride. It is common to have some fluoride in your water supply. In some city water supplies, fluoride is added because it is good for your teeth and bones. Too much fluoride consumption, however, can be damaging and even deadly. Because of the potential danger of fluoride when it comes to water quality, fluoride levels should be monitored in your water supply. Too much fluoride can lead to bones damage, inflamed joints, kidney damage, and even neurological issues in children.
- Bacteria. Even the most highly monitored water supplies can have some bacteria present. While some bacteria will not greatly affect your water quality, presence of the wrong type of bacteria can be a major issue. Bacteria can come from anywhere. Water itself can grow bacteria if it is stagnant and kept at a certain temperature. When debris exists in your water supply, however, the chances of bacteria doubles. The effects of bacteria filled water can range from a simple cold to serious illness and death.
- Nitrates. Nitrates are a natural waste that come from humans and animals. Natural fertilizers and compost are two examples that use nitrates and can lead to water contamination from runoff. While nitrates are potentially harmful to humans, they are especially harmful to young children. Babies who are exposed to too many nitrates can experience a condition called blue baby syndrome that prevents oxygen from moving freely through their bloodstream. This condition can lead to death and serious, permanent damage in your children.
- Salt. Sounds like a crazy example of something that can negatively impact your water quality, but too much salt can be dangerous. One of the most common causes of excess salt buildup in our water supplies is from the salt used during winter to keep roads from getting too slippery. The runoff of products like these can lead groundwater to become contaminated. While too much salt in your water supply is not deadly, it can cause health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions.
Water Safety Tips
Now that you have learned how contaminants can affect water quality and impact your health, here are some great tips to keep your water safe.
- Check your local Consumer Confidence Report. This provides information about public water supplies in your area. This report is available to the public and will give you insight on the potential issues found in your water supply if you use a public source.
- If you do not use city water, call a professional water specialist to talk about having your water tested. Annual water testing is the best way to find even the smallest amounts of contaminants in your water.
- If your water is emitting a strange taste, odor, or color, get in touch with someone right away. If you are on city water, call your local water company and report the problem. If you are a well water user, call your water professionals to have a test run.
- Carefully follow any boil water advisories that are released in your area.
- If you think you have become ill from contaminated water, contact your medical provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, head to the emergency room or call 9-1-1 right away. In some cases, you will need prescription medication to treat the potential effects of contaminated water on your body.
- If you do not show symptoms of illness, but think you have consumed contaminated water, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t showing signs, there may be an underlying health condition brewing that your doctor can prevent from becoming a major problem.
Your water quality should be at its best! Now that you understand all the potential health issues that can be associated with the consumption of contaminated water, you have the knowledge needed to ensure you are always drinking the highest quality water. Because water is essential to life, and your loved ones are your life, be sure your water supply is delivering the water quality your entire family deserves.