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Lead, Iron, Chlorine: How Are Contaminants Affecting Water

Did you know that between 2013 and 2014, more than 1,000 cases of drinking-water-related illnesses took place in the United States? What’s more, these led to 124 hospitalizations.

The worst part?

They claimed the lives of 13 people.

That’s not all.

Every year, tens of millions of people in the country potentially ingest water contaminants. That’s because 21 million consumers depend on local water supply systems found to have violated health quality standards.

All these raise the importance of knowing what’s in the water you drink. With water being a necessity for human survival, you want to make sure you’re drinking something free of contaminants, wouldn’t you?

Don’t worry. That’s the knowledge we’ll share with you today.

Read on to find out more about how drinking water contamination occurs and how it affects you and your loved ones’ health!

Lead

If you’ve followed the news, then you may have heard about the Flint, Michigan water crisis. The city’s residents drank water containing shockingly high levels of lead for many years. All without them knowing.

What Happened to the Exposed?

Flint’s residents were in the dark until their kids started to show symptoms like rashes. Until the adults experienced hair loss and muscle aches among other signs of lead poisoning.

Today, many of the Flint victims suffer from the effects of long-term heavy metal poisoning. These include fatigue, memory loss, anemia, and digestive diseases.

But the children have it worst. According to health experts, lead poisoning in children can impair their cognition, delay their puberty, affect their behavior, and cause other growth and development problems.

As you can see, lead is one of the deadliest elements found in today’s drinking water. And if you’re not wary of your tap water, your entire household may already be ingesting this dangerous metal.

How Do Lead Contamination Occur?

Sometimes, lead can find its way into water supplies through natural deposits. But what’s more likely is contamination through your home’s leaching pipes.

Keep in mind that for many decades, residential constructions used lead pipes. This means that many older homes and apartments still get their water supply through lead-based plumbing systems.

The pipes themselves are safe, mind you. But once corrosion or joint failure occurs, leaching follows. This is where the health hazards of lead poisoning start.

Copper

Copper contamination of drinking water can happen when your home’s plumbing materials corrode. But like with lead contamination, it can also occur through natural deposits.

Your drinking water can have copper in it due to a chemical reaction taking place between the water and plumbing materials. From here, this metal can leach into your supply from plumbing components. These include pipes, fittings, as well as brass faucets and fixtures.

How high the copper content of your water also depends on what else is in the water. The length of time the water stays in and flows through the pipes, the state of your plumbing system and the acidity and temperature level of the water also contribute to its copper content.

Invisible and Dangerous

Note that copper dissolved in water is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. The only way you can determine its presence is through testing. But if you know that your home’s plumbing uses copper pipes, it’s best you have your water tested every year.

The Results of Copper Exposure

Short-term, this can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Think irritable bowel syndrome, which experts believe affects up to 45 million people in the U.S.

The long-term effects are far scarier. There’s the possibility of kidney and liver damage.

One more thing: Anyone in your household suffers from Wilson’s disease? If so, then it’s a must you consult with your physician if your water supply’s copper content goes beyond the allowable level.

Coliform Bacteria

You may have heard about the Coliform bacteria known as E. coli after reading about food poisoning from consuming cows, chickens, and pigs.

But that’s only one form of Coliform.

Coliforms are naturally-present bacteria all around us. Their presence in water can tell us that other types of harmful microorganisms are also in the water.

A Whole World of Dangers

Drinking water contaminated with high Coliform levels can mean ingesting other deadly viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

There’s the Cryptosporidium parasite, which can lead to diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Another parasite, Giardia lamblia, also causes diarrheal disease. Legionella, a type of bacteria, is another source of waterborne disease, resulting in symptoms like cough, colds, fever, and muscle aches.

Zero Allowable Amount

There is absolutely no allowable amount of Coliform bacteria in drinking water. This is especially true for households with infants and young children. These microorganisms can attack their health in more severe ways than adults.

Pesticides

You know that pesticide you use in your garden or lawn? That can find its way into water supply systems (ground or surface water) that deliver drinking water into millions of other homes.

Yes, these substances can help in the control of weeds and winged pests. The thing is, they still carry some toxicity that can affect humans.

Are You at Risk of Pesticide-Contaminated Water?

If you live in a rural area, your water well is at higher risk of pesticide contamination. You’d want to invest in frequent pesticide contamination testing to ensure your family (and household pets) isn’t at risk.

How Your Health Can Turn for the Worst

The type of pesticide, as well as the length of time and amount of exposure you have, decide the health effects you’ll experience.

Short-term effects of poisoning can cause diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. You may also develop rashes.

Long-term exposure (for more than one year) to certain pesticide types can worsen asthma symptoms. Some other types of pesticides can also heighten risk for specific cancers. They can even contribute to birth defects, compromised immune systems, and genetic problems.

The Most at Risk for Pesticide-Related Health Problems

Infants and children are at the greatest risk for health problems pesticides bring. That’s because they still have underdeveloped internal organs. They’re also at higher risk of exposure since they drink and eat more than adults.

Chlorine

Chlorine helps in disinfecting water. It also aids in controlling microbes present in the water. That’s why you’ll find chlorine present in not only drinking water but also pool water.

Us humans rely on chlorine for safe, potable water. The problem is when there’s too much of it in your drinking water. Excessive levels can mean you’re drinking something almost as potent as bleach!

How Does It Get Into Your Water Supply?

Simple. Most water systems add this to the supply for the purpose of disinfection.

Yes, municipal water system officials measure chlorine content on a constant basis. But this doesn’t guarantee that the water coming out your tap still has an allowable chlorine content. Especially if you live somewhere with top-notch mountain spring water but small population.

How Too Much Chlorine Can Affect Your Health

Anemia, upset stomach, and irritation of the eyes and nose are some common symptoms of excessive chlorine ingestion. Infants and children can also experience nervous system problems.

Iron

Iron is not just around you – it’s inside you! After all, it ranks fourth on the list of minerals most abundant on earth. It’s also responsible for giving our blood its red color and its ability to carry and supply oxygen throughout the body.

Iron, however, is also the reason why metal objects exposed to oxygen and water rust. So, if you have brownish or reddish water flowing out your faucets, then it’s likely you have high iron content in the water.

Where Iron in Your Water Supply Comes From

Iron in drinking water comes from a number of sources, including dissolved iron which melted snow or rain carries. This mineral could also have found its way to your water supply through corroded iron or steel components of water pipes.

The Hazards of Iron

Lucky for us, iron in drinking water is often in low levels. However, there are some cases wherein large amounts of this mineral can contaminate water supplies. When you ingest too much iron, iron toxicity can occur.

Stomach pains, vomiting, and nausea are some of the early symptoms of iron poisoning. Over time, it can build up in the internal organs, possibly resulting in brain and liver damage.

But even low levels of iron in your water can already cause you inconvenience and discomfort. The staining it leaves on your clothes, fixtures, and kitchen essentials is enough to give anyone headaches. Iron in water also gives it an unpleasant taste.

Taking Control of Water Contaminants in Your Water Supply

The term water contaminants alone should make you concerned about the safety of your home’s water supply. Just because the water you see is clear doesn’t mean it’s already free of dangers.

As such, it’s best that you invest in protective measures against contamination of drinking water.

That’s where we can help. Check out our blog full of useful tips and suggestions on how you can make your home’s water supply safer and more potable.

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