is added in our drinking water to improve children's dental health. While studies from proponents of fluoridation show dramatic reductions of tooth decay in children who drink fluoridated water, opponents of fluoridation cite equally valid studies that show no difference in the dental health of children in fluoridated and no fluoridated areas. Regardless of this dispute, there are some important facts to remember about water fluoridation. First, fluoride is a highly toxic chemical, rated as more toxic than lead in chemistry indexes, whose level of ingestion must be carefully regulated. The difficulty is that no one knows for sure how much fluoride the average child is receiving. This is because, in addition to water fluoridation, children can ingest fluoride through toothpaste and through the fluoridated water that may be used in canned foods and beverages. Secondly, in addition to hardening children's teeth, there are many side effects like tooth mottling, and increased risks of bone diseases and cancer.
is a highly effective and inexpensive disinfecting agent used extensively in Australia and many other countries to treat municipal and individual water supplies. But while chlorination has helped to eradicate water-borne diseases, a growing body of evidence indicates that the practice maybe very hazardous to human health, especially when high levels of free residual chlorine leave the water treatment facility and arrive at your tap. Joseph M. Price, M.D., makes it clear that the presence of free chlorine in water creates heart disease. Chlorine causes fats to form the cholesterol deposits known as plaque. It is this plaque that clogs arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes. Disinfection by-products (DBPs) are formed when chlorine is used to disinfect water. One class of these chemical compounds is called trihalomethanes (THMs), which are formed when chlorine reacts with organic matter in water. A recent study by doctors from Harvard found that DBPs may be responsible for rectal and bladder cancers. Another massive study of pregnant women and their babies found that certain birth defects are significantly associated with DBPs. THMs, one class of DBPs, are known to damage the kidney, liver and nervous system, and to cause birth defects. Many THMs are proven to be potent carcinogens.
In addition to chlorine, and sometimes fluoride, water treatment plants often add several other substances to water to improve the efficiency of treatment. Flocculants are substances that are added to the water to make the particles in it clump together for more efficient sedimentation. Some of the most commonly used flocculants are called polyelectrolytes. These types have been banned for use by several countries because some of their constituents are known to be mutagenic (causing genetic mutations) and carcinogenic.
When certain bacteria appear in places where they do not normally reside, they can cause illness. If these bacteria are ingested, as in drinking water, they may cause illness, usually diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Most common water-borne bacterial diseases are cholera, typhoid, bacterial dysentery, tularaemia, brucellosis, shigellosis, infectious hepatitis, Weil's disease and anthrax. These diseases are transmitted by consuming water that has been infected with fecal material, and can occur as the result of faulty equipment, lack of maintenance, improperly trained operators or unusual water conditions, for instance, when heavy rains cause surface runoff to contaminate drinking water supplies.
They are the smallest of all pathogenic agents, some being as small as a single molecule. In general, they are both more dangerous and more resistant to disinfection than bacteria. Those that occur in polluted water include the adenoviruses, Coxsakie and ECHO viruses reo viruses, polioviruses, and those that cause infectious hepatitis. Viruses are also harder to treat once an infection occurs, because they are not affected by common antibiotics. With viruses, prevention is truly the best medicine.
is a protozoan which continues to show up in an increasing number of water supplies across the country. This chlorine-resistant pest can overwhelm the body's immune system. AIDS and cancer patients, the elderly, infants, and people who are ill or have compromised immune systems are most at risk. For them, drinking contaminated water can result in death.
is another cyst-forming protozoan responsible for the disease known as giardiasis, the number-one waterborne disease in the United States and many other countries. Giardiasis produces acute diarrhea, sometimes lasting for months, causing so much distress to the system that children, elderly people in weakened conditions can die. Like Cryptosporidium, Giardia has the ability to create a hard, protective coating known as an oocyst. These cysts have the ability to protect the organism against normal chlorination procedures. Giardia therefore shows up periodically in municipal water supplies around the country.
may exist in natural waters but the blue water from the tap indicates the presence of high level of copper from corrosion of pipe, which has serious health implications. Dr Fergus Kerr, a clinical toxicologist at Melbourne's Austen Hospital, says side-effects of drinking copper above the guidelines would initially start with diarrhoeic illness, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. Where there has been long-term exposure, side effects could include cirrhosis of the liver and renal failure and, if left untreated, death has been reported.
is one of the most dangerous pollutants found in drinking water. Lead is responsible for kidney, brain and central nervous system disorders. In adults, it can cause miscarriages, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, impotency, numerous nervous system disorders and even death. For infants, consuming even very small amounts of lead can lead to irreversible brain damage, intellectual, emotional, and developmental problems, numerous nervous system impairments, and stunted growth. High levels of lead have been found in children suffering from lethargy, personal aberrations, and mental retardation. Since lead accumulates in the human body, particular care must be taken to ensure that lead does not enter your drinking water supply.
: is a well-known poison that occurs naturally in many rocks, minerals and soils. Several industrial processes require its use, but most man-made pollution comes from the application of arsenic-containing pesticides. Like lead, even very small amounts build up in the body over time, causing a condition known as chronic arsenosis. It may take many years for the poisoning to become apparent. Chronic poisoning is usually first noticeable as weakness, tiredness, dry scaly skin, keratosis(changes in skin pigmentation), ganglion cysts, and swelling of the lining of the mouth. Degeneration of the nerves then follows, which produces tingling, then numbing in the hands and feet. Arsenic is also known to cause cancer, and affects the liver and the heart. Chronic arsenosis, in its most extreme form, causes death.
a silica mineral, is a known lung carcinogen. Stomach cancers were also common among those exposed to asbestos, possibly due to the swallowing of lung mucus that contained asbestos that then came in contact with the stomach lining. Asbestos is widely distributed through the environment and can reach drinking water sources through weathering of local geological sites, through pollution of water sources from mining and refining of iron, or through erosion of asbestos-based water pipes and conduits. In studies from San Francisco, associations between asbestos in water with stomach, esophagus, and lung cancer were found.
This category includes several large classes of carbon-containing chemicals. Among them are synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, disinfectants, paints, fuels, plastics, dyes, floorings, pharmaceuticals and preservatives, to name a few. When synthetic chemicals are found in a water supply, the actual polluting source may be a leaking gasoline tank or factory discharge many miles away, it may be agricultural runoff, herbicide spraying of highways or any of hundreds of legal or illegal sources.
One type of organic chemical is particularly dangerous. VOCs(volatile organic chemicals), are absorbed through your skin when you come into contact with water, as in a shower or bath. Further, hot water allows these chemicals to evaporate rapidly, and they are harmful if inhaled. VOCs can be in any tap water, regardless of where you live or what your source of water is.
In addition to the organic chemicals that have gotten into water supplies, new and dangerous ones are created in the water itself. Chlorine, which is in essentially all Australian tap water, combines with organic chemicals to form a category of toxic pollutants called THMs(trihalomethanes). These substances have been associated with impaired fertility and cancer.