Health problems developed from polluted water
The potential for health problems from drinking water is illustrated by localized outbreaks of water-borne disease. Many of these outbreaks have been linked to contamination by bacteria or viruses, probably from human or animal waste. In 1993 and 1994, for example, there were 30 reported disease outbreaks associated with drinking water, 23 associated with public drinking water supplies and 7 with private wells.
Certain pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium, may pass through water treatment filtration and disinfection processes in sufficient numbers to cause health problems. Cryptosporidium is a protozoa that causes the gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis. The most serious, and sometimes deadly, consequences of cryptosporidiosis tend to be focused among sensitive members of the population, such as individuals with immune system deficiencies.
Nitrate in drinking water at
levels above the national standard poses an immediate threat
to young children. Excessive levels can result in a condition known as
"blue baby syndrome." If untreated, the condition could be fatal.
|Boiling water contaminated with nitrate increases the nitrate concentration and the potential risk. Persons worried about nitrate should talk with their doctor about alternatives to using boiled water in baby formula.|
Naturally occurring contaminants also are being found in drinking water. For example, the radioactive gas radon-222 occurs in certain types of rock and can get into ground water. People can be exposed to radon in water by drinking it, while showering, or when washing dishes. The primary source of exposure to radon in the home is radon seeping out of the soil and into the basement air.