Pollutants in Drinking Water
Pollutants in Drinking Water You Should Know About
With the degree of water pollution happening today, it is not inconceivable to find pollutants in drinking water. Even the most stringent water treatment methods still allow some to pass through eventually ending up in the water that we drink everyday. Understanding what these pollutants in drinking water are and the potential risk they pose to health is important in order to fully protect ourselves and our families from the threat of sickness because of polluted drinking water.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), here is the list of common pollutants in drinking water.
· Microbes. These are living organisms that are cause gastro-intestinal diseases when it finds its way into the body. Common diseases from these pollutants include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Common bacterial pollutants are E.coli and Cryptosporidium. The first type of microbe comes from fecal matter including animal wastes and is a notorious cause of headaches and nausea on top of diarrhea and stomach pain. Cryptosporidium, on the other hand, is a common parasite in outdoor bodies of water that can be potentially fatal for some people. Both these microbial pollutants can easily be filtered out by sophisticated water treatment facilities but are also likely to be present in drinking water due to faulty treatment methods.
· Treatment Agents. These are used by treatment plants to kill microbial pollutants in drinking water and remove particulate contaminants but excess materials can stay in the water for extended periods. A common example is chlorine and its byproducts chlorine dioxide and chloramines. Chlorine can cause certain levels of irritation and stomach pain of ingested in excess quantities.
· Inorganic Contaminants and Heavy Metals. By far, these are abundant in poorly treated drinking water especially in old lines that use metallic pipes. Common pollutants in drinking water from this class of contaminants include Arsenic and Lead which are toxic to humans and can cause heavy metal poisoning and death over an extended period of ingestion.
· Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These compounds are found in a variety of products such as plastics, oil and oil derivatives, and inorganic chemicals such as those used in pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Common examples are benzene, styrene, vinyl chloride and tetrachloroethylene. These are also harmful to the body; benzene, for example, is widely considered a carcinogenic compound meaning it can lead to the development of cancers in humans who ingest it on a regular period.
The only defense against pollutants in drinking water is to ensure that water treatment plants are producing water that is compliant with the quality set forth by the EPA. Random audits are conducted to assess the performance of these water treatment plants and some organizations regularly sample municipal drinking water supply for the pollutants listed above.
The truth is that while strides have been made in water quality, there remains a host of issues that are not yet resolved resulting to the continuing presence of pollutants in drinking water. Thus, it is particularly necessary to ensure your own water quality either by boiling it or getting it from a supplier you trust. You can also access public records for local water treatment plants to see their compliance to EPA standards.
Water is a vital resource and essential to human survival and contaminated water quality can lead to deaths and diseases. No detail should be spared in the constant struggle for good water quality and the challenge lies in each household to police their drinking water sources ensuring minimal to zero pollutants in drinking water.
Though our site is more concerned with how to secure safe drinking water in emergencies, we felt this article on pollutants in drinking water might be of interest.