There have been more than enough reports throughout the years which have highlighted an oppressing issue in these modern times – tap water contamination. Woefully, municipal water systems are not reliable anymore, pollutants of various natures making their way into our glasses and harming our health as a result of their ingestion by humans. While consuming a glass of unfiltered water once in a while will obviously not result in severe repercussions, doing so on a daily basis, basically hydrating yourself with the contaminated water does indeed lead to health complications. Find out more about the health implications of polluted water consumption from the thorough analysis presented in this article.
#1 – Chemical Pollution
Naturally occurring or man-made, regardless of their nature, chemical pollutants are often present in worrying quantities in the water that runs through our pipes and we inevitably consume, bathe with, and use for cooking. Their prevalence is all the more disturbing as there are a plethora of different types of contaminants ingested through hydration, including fluoride, nitrates, arsenic, herbicides, pesticides, bleach, pharmaceuticals, and so on. We will focus our attention on fluoride, nitrates, and arsenic, as these are the three pollutants of a chemical nature which come in the most worrying quantities and have the biggest impact health-wise after long-term consumption.
Fluoride – Good in Your Toothpaste, Not Your Tap Water
Water fluoridation, when done properly, actually has a positive effect – preventing tooth decay by reducing tooth enamel demineralization and increasing re-mineralization in early cavity forming. However, it is hard to control fluoride quantity when inserting it in water supplies, a situation which has led to worrying levels arising. Back in 2010 in the United States, the situation got so bad that in the aftermath of a study done by a Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was shown that over 40% of adolescents ended up with dental fluorosis due to fluoride contaminated water consumption. As you can already imagine, fluoride levels in tap water have decreased since the study highlighted this problem, but safety measures should still be in check in every household. To put it in simpler words, you should test the water to see for yourself how much fluoride it contains and take action to filter the contaminant if levels exceed 0.7 milligrams per liter.
Nitrates – Hemoglobin Oxidizers
Many countries, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, are confronted with dangerous nitrates levels in groundwater, this pollution leading to unhealthy tap water as well as the municipalities do not tend to the issue professionally. When nitrates are in excessive levels in water, they lead to methemoglobinemia in infants, a disease more commonly known as ‘blue-baby’ syndrome. In all age categories of people but prevalently in babies, excess nitrates in potable water lead to the oxidation of normal hemoglobin, thus making it unable to deliver oxygen to the tissues, which, as time passes, leads to serious health issues like asphyxiation and death.
Arsenic – The Cancer-Causing Substance You Ingest Daily
Arsenic is another chemical found in tap water in most states in the U.S. and in other countries, like Thailand, for example. Arsenic poisoning from drinking water has one of the worst outcomes health-wise as it sets the basis and encourages the appearance of cancer. Thus, by consuming the tainted water over a long period, you will inevitably raise cancer risk. Drinking the water combined with unhealthy eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and a poor immune system makes cancer a very likely occurrence.
#2 – Microbiological Pollution
Another common issue with tap water is its pollution with microbiological contents, this problem being common in developing countries. However, this is not to say that economically flourished countries which are developed do not have this problem. This contamination plays a big role in the spread of parasitic and infectious diseases in people of all ages. Worse of all, regardless of how healthy you are otherwise and how preoccupied you are with being active and eating right, as long as you do not stop your ingestion of microbiologically polluted water, you will fall victim to diseases like dysentery, hepatitis, cholera, or even typhoid.
Disease Incidence Rates On a Global Scale
As aforementioned, microbiological pollution is a common occurrence in developing countries, but it is just as often of an occurrence in developed countries as well. Unfortunately, microbiological contamination is the most dangerous form of water pollution as it leads to a series of dangerous diseases affecting the individual, in some cases even causing death. Per year, due to microbiologically contaminated water consumption, there are approximately 384 thousand cases of cholera and 11 thousand deaths caused by this disease, 500 thousands of typhoid cases and 25 thousand death related to it, and 500 thousand cases of giardiasis. Filtering the water you consume and use to cook with is the only viable method to ensure you will not be affected by microbiological contamination, and we urge you stop the consumption of unfiltered water immediately if you care for your health and well-being.
#3 – Radiological Pollution
Pollution of a radiological nature shows that ionizing radiation has been emitted by chemicals that have a lack of balance in terms of neutrons and protons. Not the most common form of contamination, but still an important issue worth mentioning as it does affect a lot of states in the U.S., it does lead to a decay of the immune system and a wide range of health issues, most commonly of a neurological nature. The commonly found radiological contaminants in tap water include plutonium, uranium, and cesium.
Worrying Cesium Contamination Issue
Radiation from Japan has actually caused a wide contamination of water in the United States, over 13 states being affected by this issue. Furthermore, cesium-137 is found in milk which is sold to the public towards consumption, milk that has become contaminated as a result of the animals drinking the polluted water. A worrying investigation showed that a sample from Phoenix contained cesium and iodine levels above the maximum permitted limit for this type of pollution, thus meaning the people living in that state have been subjected to a health deteriorating agent.
Grim Results of Prolonged Contaminated Water Consumption
Depending on contamination level and type, long-term unfiltered water consumption inevitably leads to health complications. Obviously, your best solution is to utilize a form of water filtration to free your mind of worries and ensure clean water to hydrate with. Otherwise, health implications will arise, and depending on your specific situation, the outcome can be dire. When it comes to chemical and radiological pollution, it is indeed true that health effects tend to be chronic rather than acute, but the same cannot be said about microbiological contamination as it can lead to acute health problems and in outstanding cases where pollution is extreme, to death. As aforementioned, you cannot afford to toy with your health and life, so do not take any risks and filter tap water prior to consuming it.