The water contamination scare in Flint, MI, serves as a warning about the unsafe conditions of US water. Water contamination is primarily associated with developing or Third World countries, however, it can happen anywhere.
As a result, you need to learn how to test your potable water, so you and your family remain safe. Contaminated water consumed on a regular basis can lead to health problems. They range from Parkinson’s disease-like symptom caused by manganese poisoning to headaches, memory loss and possible death from lead poisoning.
Higher than acceptable levels of lead occur in potable water in 41 states, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 33 states, potable water tainted with industrial chemicals and pollutants has also been linked to health problems including cancer and hormone disruption, according to a 2016 Harvard research study.
What Contaminants Are in Drinking Water?
Sometimes simple nuisance bacteria develop in water and can produce iron and sulfur, two dangerous contaminants. However, other bacteria cause disease. These include E. Coli and coliform which require medical treatment.
Many tests for potable water help determine if the following contaminants are present: arsenic, bromine, carbonate, copper, chlorine, cyanuric acid, fluoride, iron, lead, nitrates, nitrites and residual chlorine. These common elements can occur in safe levels, but the test materials explain what those are and the appropriate safe parameters.
Its Hard to Detect Contaminants
While you cannot see these elements with the naked eye, you can see symptoms of their presence in your bathroom fixtures. For example, iron leaves yellow or orange stains on the bathtub, cement and sinks. Iron creates rust which contaminates your water with long-term consumption of rust causing serious illness. Manganese also stains fixtures, but in black or purple. Long-term consumption of it leads to declines in mental health and psychiatric issues. Manganese poisoning also causes symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s disease.
Rather than see signs of hydrogen sulphide contamination, you’ll smell it. If your water smells like rotten eggs, it signals the presences of hydrogen sulphide.
Lead Poisoning… One of the Worst Offenders
One of the most insidious toxins, lead, leaves no discernible trace. You do not suspect it until you fall ill and your doctor tests you for it. Whether inhaled or ingested, lead damages neurons. Exposure can lead to abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, infertility, memory problems and vomiting. Long-term exposure can cause anemia, coma, seizures and death.
Arsenic Poisoning More Common Than You Think
You won’t see arsenic signs until you consume it, either. Arsenic poisoning causes slightly different symptoms depending on its type and absorption level. If you consume inorganic arsenic, it can cause abdominal pains, destroy red blood cells, cause the body to go into shock and lead to quick death.