Water contamination is one of the most severe issues facing the world. According to the WHO, only 5.8 billion people worldwide have access to safe drinking water, whereas over 2 billion people lack it. This is especially true in developing nations where sanitation systems are often lacking or nonexistent, and populations are forced to use surface water sources like lakes and rivers.
However, even US citizens may face this problem if they live near large agricultural areas or industrial plants that pollute their local watersheds with runoff, chemicals, and other contaminants in the drinking water supply.
How Water Contamination Occurs
Water contamination is the introduction of a foreign substance into the water supply. This can happen at any stage of the water cycle, from pollution in the source to contamination of your tap.
Water contamination can happen when a river floods or chemicals are accidentally released into the environment. It can also occur when people dump waste into rivers, factories, and farms into the water supply.
Water contamination can occur in many ways.
One of the most common sources of water contamination is human activity. Man-made chemicals and pollutants can be found in the water supply, so it’s essential to filter household waste before it goes out into the world.
Another common source of water contamination is bacteria from animal waste or human sewage. Bacteria like E. coli and salmonella are just a few examples that can make their way into our drinking water if proper precautions aren’t taken.
In addition, some types of algae can cause severe problems with drinking water supplies because they produce toxins that are harmful to humans when ingested. Also, dumping wastewater without treatment can lead to water pollution. According to UNESCO, 80% of wastewater is dumped back into the environment without treatment.
How Does Water Contamination Affect Your Health?
The impact of water contamination on your health depends on the type of contaminant. For example, if you drink or bathe in contaminated water that contains fecal matter, you might experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or skin rashes. Exposure to bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, can cause serious illness, even death, if not treated properly.
Drinking or bathing in water contaminated with heavy metals like lead and copper can also cause serious health problems like kidney failure and liver damage over time—even cancer! These contaminants can build up inside the body until they become toxic enough to interfere with normal organ function.
Finally, exposure to chemicals like pesticides or herbicides may result in congenital disabilities and other health problems in newborns whose mothers drank contaminated water while pregnant (or drank it after becoming pregnant).
Water contamination can lead to several diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, etc. In fact, the WHO says that water contamination is estimated to cause around 485,000 diarrheal deaths annually. Moreover, a study published in Lancet states that water pollution led to 1.8 million deaths in 2015.
There are several examples of how water contamination has affected human health. Here are some of the recent examples you should know:
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, and it has been the site of a water contamination issue that has lasted for decades. In 1953, the Marines began using water from wells near the base to supply drinking water to residents of Camp Lejeune and surrounding areas.
The problem began when chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzene were found in the groundwater at Camp Lejeune. The chemicals had been there since at least 1953, and they have continued to seep into the groundwater ever since.
In 1987, officials discovered that TCE levels were high enough above safe limits. The contamination has caused severe health problems for many people who lived on or near Camp Lejeune during those years. These health conditions included congenital disabilities in children born to mothers who drank contaminated water while pregnant, cancers, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
To pay compensation to the veterans and their family members exposed to contaminated water, the government passed the Honoring Our PACT Act in August 2022. Through this pact, you can get compensation for the problems you face. Hence, if you or a loved one stayed at this camp for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987, you can file a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit. Find an experienced lawyer and file a lawsuit to claim the compensation. The lawyer will help you gather the evidence you need to prove your claim and get the money.
Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis
Flint, Michigan, is a city that has been plagued by a water contamination crisis since 2014. The city’s water supply became contaminated when the state of Michigan switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Unfortunately, the Flint River was highly corrosive and caused lead to leach into the water supply.
The crisis intensified when in 2014, people started complaining and began protesting with jugs filled with discolored waters. However, the officials denied the complaints and said the water was safe. It was in 2015 when a tech company did the research after collecting water samples from over 250 households. The results found that over 17 percent of the samples had lead levels more than the safe levels of 15 ppb. It is said that the contaminated water killed at least 12 people and sickened many more.
Sources of Water Contamination
There are a lot of ways that your water can get contaminated. Here are the primary sources:
- Pollution in the source: This is your most common type of contamination, and it’s caused by things like raw sewage, animal waste, or even illegal dumping. It can also be caused by runoff from agricultural activities or mining operations.
- Contamination during distribution: If too many people use the same water supply—like in a large city—it can lead to contamination. This is usually due to inadequate treatment processes and infrastructure not designed to handle such high use.
- Contamination after use: This happens when you don’t properly store or dispose of your drinking water. You might not realize that some containers can leach chemicals into your water over time, which makes it unsafe for consumption.
Water contamination is a serious issue that everyone needs to be aware of. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand water contamination and how it affects your health. Now, it’s time to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid water contamination to reduce its harmful effects on your health and the environment.