Access to clean and safe drinking water is essential for our health, yet many people around the world still lack this basic necessity. Even in developed countries like the United States, issues with water quality can arise, highlighting the importance of knowing the source of your water.
In July 2022, residents of Jackson, Mississippi, were told to boil their water due to contamination with E. coli bacteria. Unfortunately, the boil water notice lasted until September 15, 2022, and the city has since issued 20 additional notices due to ongoing contamination concerns.
This situation underscores the critical role that water source plays in maintaining our health and the need to be vigilant about the safety of our drinking water.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why knowing the source of your water is crucial for your health, the risks of contaminated water, and the steps you can take to ensure safe drinking water.
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The Risks of Contaminated Water
Contaminated water may contain dangerous microorganisms, like viruses, parasites, and bacteria, which have the potential to cause illness and disease. Such microorganisms may infiltrate the water supply from multiple sources, including agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and human or animal waste.
The risk of contaminated water is particularly high in areas with poor sanitation or inadequate infrastructure. In these areas, water sources may be contaminated with fecal matter, industrial waste, or other pollutants, and water treatment facilities may not be equipped to remove these contaminants.
Even in areas with modern water treatment facilities, incidents of water contamination can still occur. For example, the Camp Lejeune water contamination incident involved the exposure of over one million people to contaminated drinking water. A correlation was found between contamination and various health issues, such as cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders.
The suffering was on such a large scale that many affected individuals decided to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages caused. With the help of this lawsuit, they wanted to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. The contamination was the result of years of negligence, and those responsible must be held accountable for the harm caused to so many individuals and families.
Filing a lawsuit may also offer financial restitution for the harm that occurred as a result of consuming contaminated water. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with the health problems caused by the contaminated water.
It should be noted that the Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts are not yet finalized, but it’s estimated to account for $6.7 billion of the total cost of the Honoring Our PACT Act, which has a 10-year overall cost estimate of $667 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The information presented here was sourced from TorHoerman Law’s website, a law firm committed to seeking justice and fair compensation for individuals who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
Steps for Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Being aware of the source of your water is one of the things you can do to safeguard yourself and your family against contaminated water. Below are some measures you can implement to protect your health:
- Use a water filtration system: Consider installing a water filtration system that can eliminate harmful substances from your drinking water. Different kinds of filtration systems, like activated carbon filters and reverse osmosis systems, are available for this purpose.
- Be mindful of what you pour down the drain: Avoid pouring chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful substances down the drain, as they can contaminate the water supply.
- Stay informed: Stay up-to-date on water quality reports and advisories in your area. Local authorities and health departments can provide you with this information.
Recent studies published in the National Library of Medicine reveal that a significant number of Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of nitrate in their drinking water. In fact, over 5.6 million Americans drink water from community systems with nitrate levels higher than the EPA standard of 10 parts per million (ppm).
Moreover, community wells from groundwater sources have higher nitrate concentrations compared to drinking water from surface water sources. This highlights the need for individuals to take proactive steps, such as using filtration systems, to ensure that their drinking water is safe and free from harmful contaminants.
Municipal vs. Private Water Sources
When it comes to drinking water, knowing the source of your water is pivotal for your health. Municipal and private water sources are the two main types of water sources available to consumers.
Municipal water sources are controlled and regulated by local governments and are often treated with chemicals like chlorine to remove impurities. On the other hand, private water sources, such as wells, are not regulated and may contain harmful contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals.
While municipal water sources are generally safer, they can still contain trace amounts of contaminants. Knowing the origin of your water and performing routine testing to ensure its potability are recommended measures.
Over 90 contaminants in drinking water have legal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the level that can safeguard human health and can be achieved by water systems with the best available technology.
This may include both municipal and private water sources. However, while municipal water sources are regulated and must follow EPA rules for water-testing schedules and methods, private water sources are not subject to the same regulations.
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The Importance of Regular Water Testing
Regular water testing is essential for ensuring that your drinking water is safe and free from harmful contaminants. Testing your water can help identify any potential issues with your water source, allowing you to take appropriate action to protect your health.
Water testing is necessary to identify various contaminants like bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and heavy metals that could be present in drinking water. This information plays a vital role in determining the safety of the water and the need for any additional measures to safeguard one’s health.
One of the contaminants that are becoming increasingly concerning is PFAS (Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). PFAS are man-made chemicals that are produced and utilized in different items. These chemicals have low degradation rates and can build up in sources of drinking water, creating a notable threat to human health.
Studies have linked PFAS exposure with various negative health outcomes, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, and, more recently, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP). The EPA recently proposed establishing maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) for six types of PFAS to protect the public from the potential health hazards of these substances in drinking water.
This proposal is the first of its kind by the EPA. The proposed MCLGs and MCLs are intended to set safe levels of PFAS exposure in drinking water. Thus, testing your water is particularly important if you rely on a private water source, such as a well, as these sources are not regulated by the EPA.
Understanding the source of your drinking water is a deciding factor when it comes to protecting your health. Whether you get your water from a municipal or private source, regular testing can help identify potential issues and ensure that your water is safe to drink.
In light of growing concerns regarding contaminants such as PFAS, it is now more crucial than ever to remain aware of the quality of your drinking water. By taking proactive measures to monitor your water quality, you can take steps to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.