Although you may not own a private well, your public water source likely originates from a groundwater aquifer. Nearly 40% of Americans rely on groundwater for their drinking water. In the same pathway that microplastics and other contaminants shed off into the ocean, they inevitably seep into the American groundwater supply.
Drinking your water straight from the tap? You may want to think again.
Microplastics are a pervasive contaminant with negative health effects. Many more ailments were discovered year after year.
Your long-term health could be at stake. Don’t become a victim of the adverse effects of groundwater pollution. Read our comprehensive guide and find out how to protect both yourself and your family from contaminated water.
1. Microplastics In Our Groundwater
In 2018, the University of Illinois took 17 samples from groundwater sources near St. Louis and rural Illinois. 16 of the 17 samples were contaminated with microplastic particles.
That’s right. Only one groundwater source was free of microplastic. The study provides a glimpse into the widespread proliferation of plastic particles. Previously known to shed into the ocean, so too have they slipped into the vast reserves of our personal drinking water.
2. How Microplastics Contaminate Groundwater Sources
Microplastics are everywhere. Microbeads are used in cosmetics, toothpaste, and as exfoliants in soaps. But most sources of microplastics come from the degradation of other plastic items.
These include carpets and polyester clothing, plastic bags and styrofoam, and even paint.
Aquifers are formed by the gradual degradation of bedrock. Cracks begin to form in the stone, allowing water to seep into the system underneath. These cracks are so small that only water can find its way in. But over time, the cracks enlarge and allow larger contaminants to seep into the system.
And it’s not just microbeads that catch a ride on rainwater and other runoff. Anything on our roads, in our sewage, or poured down our drains can trickle into the groundwater systems below.
3. Negative Health Effects of Microplastics
The scariest thing about microplastics? Researchers know they’re bad for us, but they don’t know how bad. It’s a booming topic of research that becomes more haunting every year.
Microplastics attract chemical runoff, such as pesticides and weed killers. When ingested, these chemical components can cause serious health complications. These adhesive properties also intensify the speed at which dangerous chemicals can end up in our water supply.
One type of plastic particle, BPA disrupts estrogen receptors. This can cause a variety of hormone-related illnesses, such as infertility, PCOS, and breast and prostate cancer.
Since microplastics build up inside our organs, the particles can cause inflammation as they grind against our insides. This inflammation can increase the likelihood of developing cancer.
The damage of microplastics can be generational. In one study, researchers discovered that fish with microplastic contamination produced fewer offspring. Most baffling, their offspring also produced fewer children.
Microplastics may even be responsible for more severe, life-threatening complications. Hamsters, injected with microplastics, experienced deadly blood clots.
What’s most troubling is cancer, inflammation, and infertility are fairly recent discoveries. The true impact of microplastics could be much worse. Researchers have simply not discovered them yet.
Researching the physiological effect of microplastics is complex. Scientists can’t inject humans with microplastics. They also can’t control the amount of microplastic contamination they might receive on a daily basis.
4. Other Sources of Groundwater Pollution
As we alluded earlier, there are more dangers lurking in our groundwater than microplastics alone.
Faulty septic tanks can leak waste, chemicals, and other debris that eventually seeps into our groundwater supply.
When the rain washes the roads clean, all that runoff ends up somewhere. And it doesn’t all slip into our sewers. Road salts, fertilizers, motor oil, and more can infiltrate our aquifers.
Storage tanks, such as those used during fracking, are buried underground and contain hazardous chemicals. Although inspectors do check these tanks, they will eventually rupture and leak due to age alone.
Everyone has heard about the devastation that occurred to Flint, Michigan’s water supply. Lead and copper water contamination can cause serious developmental and intestinal damage.
These are some, but not all, of the plethora of contaminants that sometimes find their way into our water supply.
5. How to Avoid Groundwater Pollution
Luckily, no matter where you live or where your drinking water originates, there are some steps you can take to safeguard your health.
Boiling your water can be an effective deterrent. Organic pathogens won’t survive the heat, but chemical and metal contaminants won’t be removed.
Consider keeping a water quality tester on hand if you’re ever concerned about metal in your drinking water. These can measure dangerous levels of solids in your water.
Use a powerful water filter. It is the easiest and most effective way to avoid groundwater contaminants. These could be as simple as faucet-mounted filters, or as industrial and comprehensive as an inline filter.
Reverse osmosis filters can remove pesticides, nitrates, and other dangerous chemicals.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the types of water filters available. Picking the best water filter is both simple and easy.
Safeguard Your Health
Groundwater pollution is pervasive and damaging to your health. Even if you don’t believe your drinking water comes from groundwater sources, are you sure your water is free of contaminants?
Lead levels are high across the United States, no matter where the water originates.
Give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. With our effective and affordable water filters, you can protect your personal health and improve the taste and quality of your water.