We all know that third-world countries struggle to keep their water supplies fresh and clean, but it’s easy to forget that it’s just as important to keep our water sources clean in the United States. We have more access to the technology that filters and purifies our water supplies, but the dangers of dirty water are just as real.
What Makes Water “Dirty?”
You should always assume that unprotected water sources such as streams or rivers are unfit for drinking. They can become contaminated easily, even if they look clear and clean. Private wells can become contaminated too; however, and it’s important to do periodic water tests to make sure that your well is still clean.
Water can be contaminated by a number of bacteria and chemicals. Bacteria, total coliforms, E. coli, nitrates, and even herbicides or pesticides can all infiltrate your water supply and make it undrinkable. They come from various sources, including animal or human sewage (E. coli), and agricultural fertilization (nitrates).
Until the bacteria or chemicals have been filtered from your well, consider the water undrinkable. Unclean water can lead to a myriad of health problems ranging from slight illness to death in worst case scenarios.
Sometimes you won’t notice any effects of drinking contaminated water for many years, but other times you’ll notice immediately.
Some of the health effects you may experience include
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cancer (radioactive drinking water)
- Liver damage (cyanobacterial toxins)
- Allergic reactions (cyanobacterial toxins)
- Delayed development in children (lead)
Unfortunately, dirty water isn’t harmful only when you drink it. If contaminated water is used to water crops, you can be affected negatively through the food you eat. If you live in a rural area and eat most of your produce fresh, you may be in danger of being infected by the water content in your fruits and vegetables.
There are several things you can do to make sure your water stays clean.
- First of all, know your water system. Know where you get your water from, and what processes it might go through before it reaches your plumbing.
- Keep your plumbing up to date. Rusty or dirty pipes can lead to contaminated water, even if the source is clean.
- Test your water several times a year. Some regional health departments will send you materials for free. Just follow directions and return the sample to the nearest Health Department water depot. You will then get the results within 7-10 days in most cases.
If you have questions about contaminated water or need a water treatment, contact a professional water service. You can reach Johnson Water Conditioning at 630-832-9393.