Having clean water is critical and should be easily accessible. Yet, about 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is dumped, with much of it untreated, back into the environment, polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. In fact, less than one percent of the world’s freshwater is actually available. By 2050, the worldwide demand for freshwater is estimated to be one-third greater than it is now.
Every state has been reported to have potentially dangerous contaminants, such as arsenic and lead, which have been found in tap water. To understand how to protect water resources, it is important to know how water contamination happens.
When toxic substances pollute a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or any form of water, it damages its quality. Water is a universal solvent, meaning that it can dissolve more substances than other fluids. Water is susceptible to pollution, and toxic substances from farms, cities, and factories can easily contaminate water supplies.
Many industries and companies have been known to pollute bodies of water, including:
Manufacturing, mining, and waste disposal companies provide many communities in the country with jobs, along with products and services to consumers. However, these industries are among the nation’s worst water polluters.
Water does not need to look, smell, or taste unusual in order for it to be contaminated. In fact, contaminants cannot always be easily identified by people. It may take years before a person is aware that a problem exists with their water supply. Most people only become aware of water contamination when illnesses arise. Chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers in water may cause cancer and reproductive problems and can damage the eyes, liver, or kidneys.
Some common water contaminants include:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set standards for over 80 contaminants that may get into drinking water and present a health risk. The contaminants fall into two groups according to the health effects that they cause.
One category is acute effects, which take place within hours or days of the time that a person consumes a contaminant. People can suffer acute health effects from almost any contaminant if they are exposed to high levels, such as a toxic spill. In drinking water, bacteria and viruses are the contaminants with the greatest possibility of reaching high levels. Fortunately, most people have a strong enough immune system to ward off these contaminants.
Chronic effects happen when people consume a contaminant at levels over EPA’s safety standards over a long period of time. The drinking water contaminants that can have chronic effects include chemicals, such as disinfection byproducts, solvents, and pesticides. These chronic effects can cause cancer, liver or kidney problems, or reproductive issues.
If you have an illness that you suspect is caused by water contamination, our Delaware water contamination lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help you explore your legal options. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation.