Water quality is a subject that’s been big news lately. Residents of Flint, Michigan are suffering from toxic levels of lead in their water due to incompetent governance. Unfortunately, water quality issues are not a recent development. Industrial dumping, pesticide runoff, leaky storage tanks, and government mandates have created big problems. Let’s take a look at some of the nastiest water contaminants that may be pouring out of your faucet.
Adding fluoride to drinking water is a process that began back in the 1940’s to help reduce tooth decay. It sounds like a noble cause but fluoride is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. It can harm the thyroid gland and calcify the pineal gland. It’s so toxic that several countries have banned water fluoridation. Even some dU.S. cities have caught on and started rejecting the process of fluoridation.
Chlorine has disinfectant properties that make it useful for cleaning products and swimming pools. It’s even used to sanitize sewage and industrial waste. Chlorine is added to drinking water as a purification technique, despite not being completely safe.
Chlorine is a reactive chemical that bonds with water, including the water in your gut, to produce poisonous hydrochloric acid. Chlorine exposure can cause respiratory problems and damage cells. Long term effects include memory loss and impaired balance.
Lead is the main toxin causing problems in Flint. Corroded pipes are releasing up to ten times the allowable amount of lead into the water. Lead is toxic to almost every organ and affects children the worst. Developmental issues, stunted growth, deafness, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and brain damage can all result from exposure to lead. If ingested during pregnancy, lead can cause premature birth. Lead exposure has even been linked to autism, prostate cancer, and reproductive problems for both men and women. It’s damaging to the cardiovascular system and kidneys, too.
Although mercury is a naturally occurring element, “natural” does not mean “safe.”Mercury is extremely toxic and can cause brain damage, blindness, nerve damage, cognitive disability, impairment of motor functions, headaches, weakness, muscle atrophy, tremors, mood swings, memory loss, and skin rashes.
A byproduct of mining and industrial practices, mercury vapor can linger in the atmosphere and ride the winds halfway around the globe.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are chemicals used for industrial purposes such as insulation, machinery, oil, paints, adhesives, electronics, and fluorescent lights.
Although PCBs were banned in 1979, they’re still present in landfills and pose a danger to the environment. PCBs break down slowly and infiltrate the environment. They have been found in snow and sea water thousands of miles from where they were produced.
Animal tests have found PCBs to cause cancer and negatively affect the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.
Arsenic, despite being poisonous, is used in a multitude of industrial processes. Environmental contamination may result from improper waste disposal, or from poorly-planned wells that hit a natural source.
Arsenic poisoning can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even death in severe cases. Long-term exposure can lead to skin cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer. In Taiwan, arsenic causes “Blackfoot disease,” a type of gangrene that causes blood vessels to die and rot.