The 7 Worst Water Quality Issues Facing the U.S.

According to a recent study, at least six million people in the U.S. are exposed to unsafe drinking water. Another study found that between 9 and 45 million people in the U.S. are possibly affected by drinking water that violates health-based drinking quality standards. Both of these studies show that water quality issues in the U.S. are a much more serious issue than most people might think. Continue reading to learn what’s going on with our water.

Common Water Quality Issues

Different areas of the country have their own unique list of their more prevalent drinking water contaminations. Contaminants can be either organic or inorganic.

Drinking water can be contaminated in a host of different ways. Pollution, rock and soil erosion, water main breaks, and corroding pipes are just some of the causes.

Natural disasters, such as flooding, can cause sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, and other harmful contaminants and chemicals to enter our water supplies. Because we all need water for drinking, this leaves us all susceptible to possible contamination.

If the local or state government agencies realize our water has been contaminated, they have a duty to advise us. But that may take them a while and by then people will have already gotten sick or injured.

Water filters are one option to prevent the risk between contamination and notification from the government. Or just to avoid long-term exposure to chemicals and substances found in our local water supplies.

Substances Plaguing US Water Systems

  1. Nitrates
    • Nitrates are used in fertilizers which are used all over our country, but in higher concentrations around agriculture. Other sources of nitrates are septic systems, refuge dumps, and industrial and animal waste.
    • Nitrates tend to be more of an issue for people who drink water from wells but can affect other drinking sources as well. 
    • Infants are most susceptible to nitrate contamination. It can cause their bodies to not carry oxygen properly.  
  2. Lead
    • Millions of homes in the U.S. have lead pipes which can leach into drinking water as the pipes corrode.
    • This can happen on a citywide basis, like it did in Flint, Michigan. Flint’s water wasn’t being treated with an anti-corrosive agent, so it caused people’s lead pipes to corrode faster.
    • Lead poisoning is dangerous to both children and adults. But children under six years old absorb it easier and it can cause a serious delay in their mental and physical development. 
  3. Mercury
    • Mercury is a chemical element. It is found in deposits throughout the country, but coal power plants are the largest source.
    • When ingested, mercury can damage the liver, the nervous system, and the kidneys. However, there is no known link to cancer from mercury.
    • Mercury is also harmful to infants in utero. It can cause fetal developmental issues.
  4. Arsenic
    • Arsenis is a natural element. It can enter our water supply when natural deposits erode or from the emissions and pollution from industrial and agricultural sources.
    • It is a known carcinogen. It has been specifically linked to lung, skin and bladder cancers. It can also cause heart attacks and other serious health problems.
    • It also may cause children adverse developmental effects.
  5. Uranium and Radium
    • Uranium and radium are naturally found in rocks and can seep into the water supply when the rocks erode.
    • When these deposits decay, they can also join together to create Radon, a radioactive gas. Radon isn’t directly a drinking water threat. It escapes into the air when you are using your drinking water for household purposes.
    • Uranium has been linked to cancer. It also causes kidney and respiratory damage. 
    • When ingested long-term, radium can cause a host of issues. Namely cataracts, immune system depression, and an increase in breast, bone and liver cancers.
  6. Disinfection Byproducts
    • US water is often disinfected using chlorine. When it is, halogenated trihalomethanes (THMs) and Total Haloacretic acid (HAAs) are two groups of byproducts that can occur. 
    • THMs consist of chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform. They are all linked to causing cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes.
    • Hot water in a shower and washing dishes, as opposed to drinking it, has been shown to result in a higher THM absorption. This is an instance where having a filter on one’s shower may be beneficial.
    • HAAs is a group of disinfection byproducts known as Total Haloacretic acid. 
    • HAAs are dangerous to humans when exposed to them long-term via tainted water. HAAs increase the risk of cancer. In babies, they can cause developmental defects, mutations and DNA damage.
  7. Coliforms
    • Coliforms include a bunch of different kinds of bacteria. Three types are of note in regards to tainted water: total coliform, E. coli, and fecal coliform.
    • Total Coliform itself isn’t necessarily harmful, but its presence means the water has been contaminated with E. coli or fecal coliform, or other coliforms that can cause diseases. So most testing starts with a test for total coliform to see if further testing is necessary.
    • E. coli and fecal coliform come from the intestines of people and animals. E. coli is from only in warm-blooded animals, however.
    • Thankfully, total coliform is regularly tested for in drinking water supplies, but contaminations of both E. coli and fecal coliform do still occur. 

Protect You and Your Family Today

Water quality issues can arise at any time and without timely warning. So be prepared and begin protecting you and your family today. 

The best way to reduce your risk of exposure to waterborne chemicals and other harmful substances is by using a water filter on your faucets, refrigerator water/ice maker, shower, and any other water source in your home. If you want a source for reliable water filters of all kinds, shop our wide selection of water filters by type here.

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