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How Healthy is the Water That We Drink?

Aug 11th, 2009

waterHealth officials across the country are concerned with the conditions of our fresh water supply and especially the tap water that we drink. Pesticides and pollution of all kinds pass through aged and faulty filter systems across the country and in turn Americans are turning on the taps and drinking this pollution by the gallons.  Ingesting these toxins can eventually affect our health care system. Largely the poison from lead in our drinking water affects the fetuses of pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with immune system deficiencies and young children. Young children have been tested for having large levels of lead in their blood. The problem is most crucial in areas where the county and municipal piping is still lead based. It also occurs in older homes where lead piping is used and this pipe is connected from the house to the main street pipe. It is the corrosion of the pipes, which contaminate the water.

The health care of our nation is at jeopardy when lead poisoning can cause development delays in young children, Beyond the lead in the pipes themselves, aging water filtering systems across the nation and aging infrastructures are posing a threat to long-term health issues in the USA.  In the Midwest the issue has been the pesticides necessary in the agricultural industry, which has been slowly seeping back into our water supply. The concern is so great that pesticide companies and government watch dogs are surveying water supplies constantly however, the situation is far from under control.

The issue of disease found in the water supply also affects our health care by massive doctor visits, medical care, medication, and sometimes hospitalization and/or death.  In 1993, Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced the biggest water-borne disease outbreak in recorded US history. The outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in large metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee and La Vegas/Clark country was not detected until two weeks later and by that time several deaths had occurred. At the time period in question no one knew what caused the outbreak.  It was theorized that perhaps it was the melting snow in the area that carried cow feces into the water supply.  Yet, a decade passed and there were no definite answers. It would take an advance in technology and DNA testing to determine the cause of the outbreak.

To determine this health care risk scientists took a DNA sample of human feces from the affected individuals.  What they found was not the cattle, which had caused the situation it was humans. The strain of Cryptosporidium was Cryptosporidium hominis, which as the name suggests affects only humans.   The authorities suspected a sewage link to be the cause of the parasite found in human feces, which found its way into the drinking water supply.  Because one of the two water treatment systems in Milwaukee had been contaminated 403,000, residents became ill and 100 of them had died from the contaminated drinking water. Some findings indicated that many of the dying were already victims of aids, suggesting a weak immune system, and the inability to stave of the infection.

By April the turbitity levels were normal again.  Turbitity, which is the state of having foreign particles present in sediment (in this case water), would be measured by the cloudiness or muddiness of the water.

Today Milwaukee has one of the best water filtration systems in the country.  They have an ozone filtration system after it was determined that chlorine had no affect upon Cryptosporidium hominis. However, do not think that an Ozone filtration system can eliminate every disease because it cannot. Milwaukee has a modernized system that safeguards against many of the toxins that we are drinking but what about the other systems in America many of which are not measuring up? The Environmental Working Group reported that babies across America are drinking formula made with polluted water and this water is contaminated with atrazine and other cancer causing toxins.

We are also drinking medications and agents such as Viagra, which we flush down our toilets through urination and they seep through the filtration systems of America and back into our taps. Even though there is a high cost involved in replacing aging systems there is a higher cost involved in the general health as well as health insurance in America.

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