Not So Fresh: What Are The Dangers Of Drinking Contaminated Water?

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Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is crucial to staying happy and healthy. Hydration not only maintains the functions of your body but it also helps flush bacteria from your bladder and keep your skin looking healthy.

But what happens if the water you’re drinking on a regular basis isn’t as fresh as you think it is? While the U.S. has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, contaminants from your home’s plumbing system or your local water supply could impact your tap water.

How do I know if I’m drinking contaminated water?

The health effects people experience from drinking contaminated water might not become apparent immediately. Your overall health, age, physical condition, and immune system can also determine the extent of the contaminants’ effects on your health.

The most commonly reported issues experienced by people who drink contaminated water include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Stomach aches
  • Dehydration

It’s important to note that you can still experience long-term effects of drinking contaminated water without experiencing symptoms. For instance, water sources such as well water that are contaminated with radon gas or radium might not show immediate health effects. However, long-term exposure to water contaminated with radon has been linked to heart disease and cancer. In rare cases, contaminated water may even carry poliovirus.

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that decays quickly and gives off tiny radioactive particles that can cause lung cancer or leukemia when inhaled. When consumed, it’s been linked to stomach cancer, blood-related cancers, and ovarian cancer (the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women).

How can I prevent water contamination?

Water contamination can come from a variety of sources. America’s aging sewer systems spill approximately 1.26 trillion gallons of untreated sewage every year. But your water problems could be coming from your home’s own sewer line.

Old plumbing systems were commonly made with lead, galvanized steel, and iron. If your plumbing system hasn’t been replaced since your house was built, there’s a chance that contaminants like lead could be making their way into your drinking water.

Make sure that you’re conducting routine maintenance on your home’s plumbing system to prevent small issues from becoming major disasters. Approximately 10% of U.S. households have leaks in their plumbing and 98% of homes with basements will experience some type of water damage in their lifetime. Taking care of your plumbing prevents water contamination, water damage, and water waste.

How can I make sure the water I’m drinking is clean?

It can be difficult to tell if the water you’re drinking is safe. After all, contaminated water doesn’t always have a distinct smell or taste. Because of this, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure you’re drinking clean water.

You can make your water safe to drink by boiling it, using a water filter, or using a water purification system. You can also look for your water report on the Environmental Protection Agency’s local drinking water information page to get a better idea of what your municipality’s drinking water is like.

Your drinking water can be contaminated by many different chemicals or materials, which is why it’s important to maintain your home plumbing system and be wary of what you’re drinking. By monitoring your local drinking water through the EPA and using a home water filtration or purification systems, you can protect yourself from contaminants and waterborne illnesses.

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