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Health Hazards Of Drinking Tap Water - Water Purification Tips

Origin of drinking water: Drinking water is obtained from either groundwater (wells, bore wells, aquifers or pockets of water in porous rocks under the land) or surface water (such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs). Public water systems usually get their water from these sources and supply them by pipes to houses.

Health Hazards Of Drinking Tap Water:

  • Both surface water and groundwater can contain contaminants, especially if the water treatment facilities are not very advanced. 
  • Groundwater may contain traces of oil or gasoline, inorganic materials, pesticides and sometimes even radioactive gases like radon. Surface water may be contaminated by sewage, decayed vegetable matter or other organic contaminant which contain bacteria.
  • When this contaminated water is used from taps, it may lead to various health hazards. Tap water from public drinking water systems have been known to contain micro-organisms which have caused illnesses and epidemics such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery. 
  • Chlorination of water may have reduced this hazard, but chlorine comes with its own dangers. It increases the risk of various cancers.  Necrosis (damage) of tissues of the kidney, liver or central nervous system has also been blamed on excess intake of chlorine through tap water.
  • Besides, water-borne viruses of polio and Hepatitis A, and the protozoa which causes giardia (whose symptoms are severe abdominal pain and diarrhea) are resistant to chlorine. 
  • Tap water is carried by lead and aluminum pipes, which may cause these metals to leach into the water.
    Excessive intake of these metals has been associated with brain damage.
  • Tap water may also contain traces of nitrites. High levels of this are dangerous and can cause hemorrhaging in the spleen in adults. In babies, it causes the Blue Baby Syndrome or Methemoglobinemia, which can prove to be fatal, if the baby is not hospitalized and treated immediately.
  • This is especially critical in babies under the age of six months, since their digestive tracts are still not properly formed and they cannot process out the nitrites.
  • Many water treatment plants also add fluoride to their drinking water supply. While this might have certain health benefits (fluoride strengthens teeth and causes less tooth decay), excessive amounts could be hazardous to health.
  • In normal people fluoride may help the bone to become stronger and harder and prevent osteoporosis, but a kidney patient is unable to excrete the extra fluoride. Extra levels build up in the kidneys leading to health hazards.
  • Excessive fluoride can increase toxic levels in the body, leading to metabolic disorders. Too much fluoride also causes brown or yellow stains on the tooth enamel giving it a mottled look.
Submitted on January 16, 2014