What Happens After You Drink Contaminated Water?

August 21, 2023

Every day, each American drinks one to two liters of water. Though we all know why it’s important to stay hydrated, most of us don’t think twice about what’s in our water.

Sources of Contamination

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Virtually all drinking water in the United States comes from fresh surface waters and ground water aquifers.” These water sources, however, may be contaminated.

Industry and Agriculture.

Drinking water may be contaminated by organic solvents, petroleum products, pesticides, fertilizers, and heavy metals from disposal sites or storage facilities.

Human and Animal Waste.

Human and animal waste may contain contaminants such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and E. coli.

Treatment and Distribution.

The treatment of water may leave behind harmful byproducts, such as trihalomethanes. In addition, water may become contaminated once it enters the distribution system. A breach in the piping system or corrosion of plumbing materials made from lead or copper may introduce dangerous metals into drinking water.

Natural Sources.

Some groundwater may have naturally occurring arsenic, other heavy metals or radionuclides, making it especially unsuitable for drinking.

How Contaminated Water Affects Human Health

Drinking contaminated water can cause a host of health conditions, such as cancer and gastrointestinal illness. The likelihood of whether a contaminant will cause adverse health effects will depend on the type of contaminant, its concentration level, individual susceptibility, the amount of water consumed, and the extent of exposure

According to the EPA, the health effects of chemical exposure include skin discoloration, damage to the nervous system or organs, and developmental or reproductive effects. Drinking water contaminated with disease-causing microbes can lead to stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, kidney failure, hepatitis and even death among individuals with severely-compromised immune systems.

What Homeowners Can Do

It’s important to regularly replace the water filter in your sink and refrigerator to make sure dangerous contaminants are filtered out. Feel free to reach out to Roger The Plumber for water filter recommendations and service.

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Last Updated: May 31, 2024