Know Your Water
There are two types of water in your home. Drinking water is water at your kitchen sink and running to your refrigerator for cold water or ice maker if you have these appliances. Working water is for the bathing facilities, laundry, dishwasher, and outside faucets.
Do you know that:
- The quantity of water exchanged within various parts of our bodies is surprisingly large?
- The kidneys process about 180 litres per day, returning most of the water to the blood stream?
- Lymph flow amounts to 1-2.5 litres per day, and turnover of fluids in the bowel to 8-9 litres per day?
- Everyday 80,000 litres of water diffuse in both directions through capillary walls?
It is for these reasons that drinking water in particular should be taken seriously by all of us. The point is that contaminated water prevents the organs from performing their functions properly as should be the case. The contamination of drinking water supplies can occur in two ways
- the source water (surface or underground/aquifer)
- the distribution system after water treatment has already occurred. That is old pipelines and with water leaking out of the pipes untreated water or debris (seep, contaminate, drain, or flow) goes into the water supply.
Contamination can be from microorganisms, naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium), local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, concentrated feeding operations), manufacturing processes, man-made chemicals and sewer overflows or wastewater releases.
The presence of contaminants in water can lead to adverse health effects:
- Microorganisms/pathogens cause typhoid, cholera, dysentry, etc.
Pls Note: In the 19th Century, British scientist John Snow discovered that cholera is transmitted through water. After several experiments, he also found that chlorine could be used to purify contaminated water, resulting in the use of chlorination as a popular form of water purification.
- Chemicals: Some chemicals can pose serious health risks if they are ingested, causing cancer, and others are known to be hazardous to the atmosphere. Bromate, Chlorite, haloacetic acids, etc are by-products of water disinfection and may cause anaema, cancer, and kidney health problems. Chloramites, chlorine, etc that are used as water additives to control microbes can cause eye/nose irritation; stomach discomfort and nervous system effects. More chlorine causes a very serious health concern by combining with other contaminants making for a real “chemical cocktail” in your water. Some studies indicate chlorine could cause a breakdown in immune system. The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that certain cancers such as colon, rectal andprostrate can be attributed to chlorinated compounds found in water. High chlorine and chloramine concentrates can also cause skin and eye irritations and damage rubber plumbing components.
- Minerals/Dissolved Elements
Although minerals are important for our physiological growth unsuitable intake of them increases the likelihood of disease.
- Excess of Iron and Manganese causes discolouration, turbidity and deposits
- Calcium and manganese can lead to hardness of water
- Ironcan stain plumbing and laundry and over time make well water unusable
- Arsenicis mainly thecause of human cancers including cancer of the skin, lung, bladder and probably liver
- Fluoride leads to dental fluorosis, a brown colouring of the teeth, but higher intakes lead to skeletal fluorosis, a condition arising from increasing bone density and which can eventually lead to fractures and crippling skeletal deformity
- Selenium can give rise to loss of hair, weakened nails and skin lesions
- Uranium is found in groundwater associated with granitic rocks and other mineral deposits is a kidney toxin.
In addition to natural contaminants, ground water is often polluted by human activities such as:
- improper use of fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides.
- Improperly built or poorly located and/or maintained septic systems for household wastewater
- Leaking or abandoned underground storage tanks and piping
- Storm-water drains that discharge chemicals to ground water
- Improper disposal or storage of wastes
- Chemical spills at local industrial sites
Please Note: The effect of drinking contaminated water differs among the population. The more vulnerable are more likely to be affected than the general population. It is a special case for people going through chemotherapy treatment or living with HIV/AIDS, transplant patients, children and infants, the elderly and pregnant women and their fetuses. They can be particularly at risk for infections.
Quick Noticeable Water Problems
- Scale or scum from calcium or magnesium salts in water
- Unclear/turbid water from dirt, clay salts, silt or rust in water
- Green stains on sinks or faucets caused by high acidity
- Brown-red stains on sinks, dishwasher, or clothes in wash points to dissolved iron in water
- Cloudy water that clears upon standing may have air bubbles from poorly working pump or problem with filters.
- Salty or brackish taste from high sodium content in water
- Alkali/soapy taste from dissolved alkaline minerals in water
- Metallic taste from acidity or high iron content in water
- Chemical taste from industrial chemicals or pesticides
- A rotten egg odor can be from dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas or certain bacteria in your water. If the smell only comes with hot water it is likely from a part in your hot water heater.
- A detergent odor and water that foams when drawn could be seepage from septic tanks into your ground water well.
- A gasoline or oil smell indicates fuel oil or gasoline likely seeping from a tank into the water supply
- Methane gas or musty/earthy smell from decaying organic matter in water
- Chlorine smell from excessive chlorination.
|Note: Many serious problems (bacteria, heavy metals, nitrates, radon, and many chemicals) can only be found by laboratory testing of water.|
Should I Be Concerned?
Yes, you should if you care about the health of your family, yourself and your dependents, friends, workers, etc. Although there are basic laws and standards, legally safe does not mean totally safe. The harm may be done before the law takes effect. Much more the laws are yet to protect private wells and boreholes.
What Should I Do?
There are six basic steps you can take to help protect your personal drinking water supply:
- Identify potential problem sources.
- Talk with local experts.
- Have your water tested periodically.
- Have the test results interpreted and explained clearly.
- Set and follow a regular maintenance schedule for your well (if you have it), and keep up-to-date records.
- Immediately remedy any problems.