02 Sept 2012
The contamination of water is directly proportional to the degree of environmental degradation and can threaten the very basis of human survival
It is a no–brainer that clean water is absolutely essential for healthy living. Adequate supply of fresh and clean drinking water is essential for all human beings, yet millions of people worldwide are deprived of this basic necessity of life.
Globally, freshwater resources are imperiled not only by over exploitation and poor management but also by ecological degradation. Discharge of untreated waste, dumping of industrial effluent, and run–off from agricultural fields are some of the ways in which water is contaminated. Industrial growth, urbanization and the growing use of synthetic organic substances have serious effects on freshwater bodies.
Developed countries suffer from problems of chemical discharge into the water sources, mainly groundwater, while developing countries face problems of agricultural run–off in water sources.
Farm runoff, containing agricultural chemicals and manure, may lead to contamination of drinking water supplies with fungicide, insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, containing phosphorous and nitrogen.
Some studies have shown that fertilizers in water supplies may cause cancer. In China, research on populations exposed to nitrates in their drinking water, suggested links between nitrate contamination and stomach and liver cancer.
The chemicals used in water pipes may contaminate drinking water after it has been treated. Copper, tar, asphalt iron, zinc, coal, polyethylene, concrete, polyvinyl chloride, vinyl, asbestos and lead are all potential sources of posttreatment contamination.
Another recent study showed a link between leukemia and trichlorethylene, which comes from plastics used in the drinking water delivery system. Before that, a study of several water systems demonstrated an increase in the cancercausing properties of drinking water after it passed through the delivery system.
Researchers are also concerned about the potential for micropollutants to cause cancer through chemicals that mimic naturally–occurring, biologically–active compounds. These substances appear to disrupt intercellular communications. For instance, nonyl–phenol, a common chemical, increases proliferation in breast tumor cell cultures.
Water supplies can be contaminated in houses with lead pipes or plastic pipes that emit volatile compounds. The contamination of water is directly proportional to the degree of environmental degradation. Rainwater flushes airborne pollution from the skies, and then washes over the land before running into the, rivers, aquifers, and lakes that supply our drinking–water. All of the chemicals generated by man will eventually end up in our water supplies.
Concerns about the health risks of contaminated drinking water may compel those who consume tap water to shift to bottled water or other beverages. These beverages may include sweetened soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, which can pose bigger health risks than those associated with drinking water. To make matters worse, the production and disposal of containers for alternative beverages, including bottled water, may lead to the release of carcinogens.
Contaminants such as lead, asbestos, and trihalomethanes could appear in your water supply after the water leaves the public water treatment plant. It is no surprise then that people all over the world are looking for alternatives to drinking tap water.