Water pollution can affect us in lots of different ways and on so many levels.
There is groundwater pollution for example that impacts water quality for residents receiving their water from a private well. Then there is ocean pollution that is unsightly – think littering – and contaminates food chains so that pesticides, heavy metals and other harmful contaminants that found their way into the sea will eventually end up on our dinner plates in form of sushi.
This article is about the many faces of water pollution and the effects it has on us as human beings.
“Water pollution occurs when harmful substances (…) contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or (an)other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment.” (Source)
This does not mean, however, that the pollution of a water body is always man-made, although it usually is a result of human activity.
Natural changes in water quality might occur due to
On the other hand we have human-induced water pollution which can be categorized in:
How does water pollution affect us as human beings?
First and foremost, it can have a negative impact on our health, obviously. Apart from that, it may cause revulsion – who wants to swim in water full of plastic?
The first aspect is much more severe which is why we are going to discuss it in a bit more detail.
Drinking water alone is estimated to cause 502,000 diarrheal deaths each year. By the way, this does not include mortalities due to other diseases triggered by contaminated drinking water and all types of water in general.
And let’s not forget that polluted water does not have to kill you. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by waterborne parasites that currently ail almost 240 million people worldwide. To get infested, direct skin contact with contaminated water is all it takes.
Other waterborne pathogens can originate from human and animal waste spreading diseases such as cholera. This not only affects developing countries, but thousands of Americans that come down with Legionnaires’ disease each year.
In addition, many more contaminants that are capable of making you ill have found their way into our supply systems in the past decades. One prominent example for this is the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan which we’ve covered in great depth in our lead water filter guide here. Although there really is no safe level for lead in drinking water, it is being served to hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents each year leading to intellectual impairment in our children.
Another very common chemical pollutant is chlorine used for disinfection. Chlorine itself can not only cause skin rashes and respiratory problems when inhaled in the shower. When reacting with biological waste it forms disinfection byproducts that are associated with an increased risk of cancer and problems during pregnancy.
And there are many more ways how polluted water can compromise our health.
There are a couple of measures that you can take to
What you can do as a health protective measure is filter the water in your home, whether you are on a well or receive tap water doesn’t really matter. Now this is easier said than done which is why we have dedicated a whole website to this topic.
It all starts with filtering the water that you use for drinking and cooking.
In cases of severe contamination, reverse osmosis and distillation are your best friends. Both technologies provide the cleanest H2O possible with almost 100% purity. However, the purified water will be deprived of all healthy minerals so consider remineralizing your water before consumption.
Regular carbon filtration used by pitcher filters, countertop & under sink systems and faucet mounted units is great for removing chemicals. Earlier on we mentioned chlorine as a water disinfectant that you can eliminate this way.
If you want to learn more about chlorine reduction in tap water or would like to browse a list of top chlorine filters, click here.
What do you do if you want access to filtered water at every outlet in your home? In this case, a whole house water filter system is exactly what you need. It will filter all the water before it gets distributed to your bathrooms and kitchen etc.
This allows you to drink straight from every tap and at the same time enjoy contaminant-free showers.
On a side note, clean water in your entire house will also improve indoor air quality as it prevents volatile substances to evaporate. Another benefit is that some whole home filters can reduce water hardness and thereby increase the lifespan of your home appliances (but that’s for another post).
The downside to whole house water filters are high cost, meaning a high price tag plus expenses for installation if you are not handy with tools and require professional help.
If you want you can check out some of our whole house water filter reviews.
Also, the following table provides an overview of the different types of filters and their uses:
|Reverse Osmosis Systems||Highest Water Purity||$$ – $$$|
|Distillers||Highest Water Purity||$$ – $$$|
|Filter Pitchers||Only Basic Treatment||$|
|Countertop/Under Sink Units||Water Safe for Drinking||$$|
|Faucet Mounted Filters||Only Basic Treatment||$|
|Whole House Filter Systems||Filtered Water At Every Outlet||$$$$$|
|Shower Filters||Clean Shower Water||$|
In order to lower your pollution footprint, the first thing you should do is reduce the amount of plastics that you use. Also, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Speaking of water, plastic bottles are one of the worst inventions ever – please stay as far away from them as you can.
What you should also do is dispose of cleaning agents and other hazardous chemicals properly. And in your garden, try to avoid the use of fertilizers, herbicides and the like.
If you have a sewage system, make sure that it functions as intended and remember that paint, thinners and solvents have no place in there.
Groundwater pollution, surface water pollution, ocean pollution – the way we treat our water sources has to change now, before we pass the point of no return. Otherwise, we won’t be able to live on our planet for much longer.
Considering the severe effects that contaminated water can have on our health, make sure to protect yourself by using one of the treatment solutions listed above if need be.
Gene has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves to read books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.