Drinking Water

Is It Safe?

Healthy or Unhealthy?

The health effects of drinking water, also referred to as tap water, have long been discussed. The concentration of harmful substances in water is the main determinant in whether the water is safe to drink. While removing crucial contaminants is important, removing all contaminants is extremely expensive and can have greater effects to health.


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Contaminants

Two Main Types:


  • Microbial- bacteria, viruses, and microscopic parasites
  • Chemical- metals, pesticides, synthetic chemical compounds, suspended solids, and other substances

Both can be naturally occurring or caused by human activity


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Is Public Water Really Safe? How Do You Know If Your Water Is Safe?

Public water, or just the tap water of the United States, is typically safe. It is treated through chlorination, filtration, disinfection and numerous other processes. The simplest way to detect whether or not your water is safe, is by smell, taste or color. Other times detection is not as simple. In order to further ensure that your water is safe, you could implement a filter such as a reverse osmosis filter in your home. Being aware that water can be contaminated is very important and will keep you safe. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply and protecting sources of drinking water. The SDWA is overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners within the states. Through the SDWA, the EPA tests drinking water on a regular schedule. To find out how safe your water is, you can contact the EPA and ask for a copy of their Consumer Confidence Report, which contains the levels of contaminants from their tests.

What Tests And "Readings" Are Used To Determine How Safe Drinking Water Is?

Today, it is very easy to test your water to ensure that it is safe. You can simply go online and purchase an at home water testing kit. In this testing, you take a sample of the first drawn water of the day and send it off to a laboratory, such as ones associated with the EPA, for analysis. Another option, is to contact your local water supplier and schedule them to come and test your water.

Flint Water Crisis

In January of 2014, President Barack Obama called a State of Emergency in Flint, Michigan after tests revealed that their water was unsafe to drink. The water was found to contain dangerously high levels of lead. Many people fell ill after drinking the contaminated water and found rashes after bathing in the water.


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What Are The Health Risks Of Drinking Unsafe Water, Short Term and Long Term?

Short term affects occur within a few hours or days of drinking contaminated water and include:


  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Dehydration


Long term affects occur after water with relatively low doses of a pollutant has been consumed for several years or over a lifetime and include:


  • Cancer
  • Brain Damage
  • Nervous System Damage
  • Muscle and Bone Weakness
  • Kidney Damage and/or Failure
  • Impaired Fetal Development
  • Death


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How Can You Prevent Diseases Associated With Water?

The best way to prevent disease and illness associated with water is to be aware of the fact that it is possible for your water to become contaminated. With that said, you should implement a filter into your home and continuously have your water tested for contaminants. Also, be cautious when visiting developing countries, as they have higher cases of contaminated water. Always be careful about the water you are drinking and do not drink from a suspicious source. By going out of your way to make sure your water is clean, you can prevent disease associated with water.