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Safe water for drinking, cooking, and bathing is an absolute necessity for maintaining a healthy mind, body, family, and community. In many instances, public water municipalities supply homeowners with water obtained from underground aquifers. In less common instances homeowners have a private water source, such as a well, spring, or pond located on the property. If a property’s water source is public, the water is tested and treated for contaminants found in the water according to state and federal requirements. The water is tested for 1. Microbes 2. Radiosonde 3. Inorganic contaminants such as asbestos, lead, copper, mercury, and nitrates.
Microbes are common in aquatic environments and in most instances do not cause harm. It’s important to know however that the presence of these bacteria in drinking water may indicate a problem with the treatment system or the neighborhood delivery system. The presence of microbes may also be a strong indication the water is polluted with germs that can cause serious illness. Examples of microbes include: Fecal Coliform and E Coli are a bacteria resulting from human or animal waste. Adverse effects of ingesting these types of microbes include short-term effects of, cramping, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea.
Turbidity does not directly cause adverse health effects. However, its presence can retard the purification process and provide a medium for microbial growth. Its presence may indicate the presence of minor illness-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause cramping, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea symptoms. Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by individual particles.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that enters lakes and rivers as a result of sewage and animal waste contamination. It causes gastrointestinal illness that for most results in diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. The greatest risks of internal cryptosporidium exposure are for those born with weak immune systems or for those who have weakened immune systems resulting from cancer, organ transplant, and immunosuppressive drugs. Exposure under these conditions can result in more persistent effects and possible death. Giardia lamblia infects rivers and bodies of water as a result of sewage and animal waste exposure. Adverse health effects of this microbe may include vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, fever, and other systemic symptoms.
Some minerals are radioactive and as such emit alpha radiation. A portion of the population has increased health risks when they drink water containing alpha emitters over a period of several years. In these instances the health risk is cancer. The two sources of alpha radiation include Beta emitters and Combined Radium emitters. Radon gasses can dissolve to become water born, thereby contaminating wells and other sources of water. Just as breathing radon gasses can cause lung cancer, so can drinking radon-contaminated water. Artificially produced radionuclides can be produced by nuclear reactors.
3. Inorganic Contaminants
Inorganic contaminants are compounds that typically do not contain the element carbon in their molecular structure. Sources of dissolved contaminants result from natural sources such as natural elements which occur in geology. They also occur as a result of human activity. An example of this is outfall runoff from industry. Because of risks associated with Inorganic contaminants causing acute poisoning, cancer, and other health effects state and federal governments regulate water distributed to the community to ensure inorganic levels do not reach toxic levels.