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Minding What You Drink: What Are the 4 Types of Drinking Water Contaminants?

New construction and old require site-remediation to remove the polluted and contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater to protect people and the environment. Federal, state, and local authorities mandate and monitor the need and response. The level of remediation depends on known and unknown conditions and on the people and systems affected.

Without remediation, humans, animals, and other organisms are exposed to contaminated water affecting their mental and physical health as well as that of future generations.

4 drinking water contaminants:

  1. Organic Contaminants: You wouldn’t something organic could hurt you. According to the South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources, “organic contaminants” include “Carbon-based chemicals, such as solvents and pesticides, which can get into water through runoff from cropland or discharge from factories. EPA has set legal limits on 56 organic contaminants.”

Carbon-based contaminants from petroleum, such as PCBs and Dioxin bind with human tissue making them extremely toxic, even in small quantities. Unfortunately, hydrocarbons bind to sediments, and removing them presents additional risks to the sediment’s environmental impact. 

  1. Inorganic Materials: Drinking water ultimately comes from sources where water has filtered through the earth’s surface. As it drips slowly through soil, rock, sand, and stones, the process cleans pollutants and debris from the rainfall. However, it also picks up natural chemicals and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

In moderation, these pose little risk. However, your drinking water may also pick up dangerous levels of arsenic, copper, lead, and nickel from groundwater runoff and/or corrupted piping. Lead from outdated pipes, for example, has an unfortunate history of delaying normal physical and mental development in fetuses, newborns, and young children. 

  1. Biological Contaminants: Wells and aquifers are rich with bacteria and parasitic microorganisms. Humans develop a tolerance or immunity to the more positive elements. But where their presence outweighs their benefits, you could have a problem.

Research by Dr. James Seltzer notes, “Temperature, relative humidity, sources of nutrients, and air movement affect the growth and dissemination of biological contaminants.” It’s the job of municipal water systems to reduce and eliminate the threats presented by waterborne viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

  1. Radioactive elements: Natural radiation affects us daily. Potassium-40 and radium-226 are found in plants and animals as a matter of course. But air and water rear nuclear labs, power plants, and open mining will show higher levels. And, given the “shelf life” of nuclear by-products in the air and soil, remediation is a challenge.

It takes multiple approaches to remove or diminish the radioactive risk in water, a lengthy and expensive process. But radioactive materials kill cells, cause cancer, and target the kidneys. Moreover, radioactive drinking water will release radon into the home and environment.

What to do?

The world loses more people every year from water pollution than from war and other violence combined. The World Health Organization considers clean water a basic human right, and the US EPA has taken a vigorous stand. 

But if you know or suspect you have a drinking water problem, you must pursue the avenues available. That takes research at sources like https://cascade-env.com/. Failure to act or speak up only exacerbates the problem!

About Contributing Writer

We know that not everyone wants to be a full-time writer, and that those people may still have something great to contribute. Knowing this, we often have guest writers submit articles to us on various topics. Contact us if you have something wonderful to share!

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