Water Quality and Health
How does water quality affect health?
Poor water quality can limit the economic development of a community, devalue property, affect livelihoods, and, most importantly, harm health. Health effects can be short term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population, even if the levels are below the safe drinking water standards. Immuno-compromised persons such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some infirm elderly, infants, and particularly unborn children can be at increased risk from contaminants in drinking water. Our water resource will always be pressured by increasing population, urbanization, the demands of higher living standards, and pollution. It is an inevitable consequence of human activity. Therefore, all members of the community must work together to keep contaminants in our drinking water below safe levels.
Water Quality and Children
Unborn children, infants, and young children are the population most affected by contamination in our environment. Why?
- Their bodies experience rapid development and have incomplete defense systems.
- Any chemical exposures are greater pound-for-pound than that of an adult.
- Any chemical exposures are more harmful to the developing brain.
- Chemical exposures that reach target organs can damage them due to rapid development of those organs and systems.
- Their detoxifying and excreting systems are not fully developed.
- They have longer future life spans compared to an adult, allowing more time for adverse effects to arise during a lifetime.
- Chemical exposures during the fetal stage leads to adult disease.
- Known risk: Blue baby syndrome at nitrate levels > 10mg/liter (safe drinking water limit).
Long-term Health Effects
Contaminants in drinking water may not damage your health immediately, but can be harmful after long-term chronic exposure, sometimes at levels below the safe drinking water standards. Potential health effects of some contaminants found in our drinking water are listed below.
Ingestion of TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (perchloroethylene):
- Liver problems; increased risk of cancer
Ingestion of EDB (ethylene dibromide):
- Problems with liver, stomach, reproductive system, or kidneys; increased risk of cancer