How Can Contaminated Water Lead to Adverse Health Effects?

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In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as a human right. As such, everyone has a right to safe, sufficient, continuous, physically accessible, and affordable water for use. Sadly this feat has proved challenging to achieve with at least two billion people drinking contaminated water.
According to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025. WHO statistics also show 785 million people lack access to clean drinking water, and 144 million depend on surface water. This shortage of clean drinking water encourages people to result in taking contaminated water despite grave health effects.

Taking contaminated water exposes individuals to health risks, particularly in health care facilities where the staff and the patients risk infection. According to WHO health fact sheets, 15% of patients develop water-related infections during a hospital stay.
One of the primary causes of contaminated water is poor management of industrial and agricultural wastewater. Most industrial plants discard wastewater to water bodies polluting it with harmful chemicals. Millions of people are exposed to such highly polluted water, especially when consumed without prior treatment. But, if water treatment is your concern, order for water filters from reputable company websites such as at Some health effects of taking contaminated water include:

1. Diarrhea

The World Health Organization estimates that 829,000 people die every year from the disease as a result of poor hand hygiene and taking contaminated water. While the condition is preventable, people living in water-stressed areas may not prioritize essential hygiene practices like handwashing, increasing the risk of contracting the disease. Diarrhea is a digestive disorder that causes loose stool and abdominal cramps. In young children, the condition can cause persistent vomiting, high fever, and possible unresponsiveness.

2. Cholera

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Contaminated water is likely to contain vibrio cholera, a bacterium that causes cholera. The bacteria spreads through water contaminated by human feces causing infected persons to develop symptoms like watery stool, vomiting, leg cramps, and sometimes death. According to the CDC, cholera causes 95,000 deaths every year.

3. Hepatitis A

This highly contagious liver infection can get transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water or food. Some common symptoms of the disease include stomach pain, fatigue, jaundice, low appetite, and nausea. Most infections resolve within two months without treatment.

4. Intestinal Damage and Chronic Toxicity

Industrial wastewater from mines, petroleum refineries, cement plants, and municipal waste disposal plants contains heavy metals that contaminate drinking water. The wastewater can contaminate drinking water with significant amounts of heavy metals like chromium, arsenic, lead, selenium, cadmium, antimony, copper, among others. Consumption of high levels of such metals leads to intestinal damage, chronic toxicity, kidney and liver damage, cancer, anemia, to mention a few.

5. Methemoglobinemia

Infants are particularly susceptible to the disease if taking contaminated water with high levels of nitrate and nitrite. The chemicals are found in human sewage, chemical fertilizers, and animal waste. Apart from the apparent contamination through poor wastewater disposal, they can also contaminate a private well through groundwater movement.
According to WHO guidelines, the acceptable levels of both chemicals are 50 milligrams per liter for nitrate and 3 milligrams per liter for nitrite. Water that contains chemicals exceeding this amount increases an infant’s risk of developing methemoglobin or blue baby syndrome. The compounds reduce the blood’s ability to transmit oxygen in infants less than six months, especially when combined with gastrointestinal disease-causing microorganisms.

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Contaminated water makes users susceptible to diseases. While public water systems employ some form of water treatment remedies, homeowners should also be proactive in ensuring they have safe drinking water. Installing water treatment systems at, for example, ensures your drinking water is free from chemicals and safe to drink.

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