Science With Hannah: Clear is Not Clean

Hannah Narvaez ~ Staff Blogger

Hopefully, everyone is aware of pollution and its existence in the United States. As a planet, we are facing consequences from human-caused pollution, but it extends much further than the trash on the side of the road or floating in the ocean.

The pollution I’m writing about is the invisible kind – the type that gets noticed when it’s too late and you become ill. Water pollution has been linked to several human health issues, and the risk of being affected is increasing. While we are privileged to have running water to bathe in, to cook with, to water our plants and drink, should we really trust in its appearance?

The fact is that tap water is extremely risky to drink. While it may look clear, bring refreshment and be tasteless, it is actually a clear concoction with secret surprises. Yes, our water is filtered and goes through water-treatment facilities, but chlorine is actually used as a disinfectant.

While it isn’t too terribly harmful at low levels, there is a high chance for chlorine and other disinfectants to produce byproducts that are harmful to humans in any amounts. According to PopScience, many of these byproducts have been tested and found to be linked to miscarriages.

Our tap water also has the potential to contain insecticides and herbicides from pipes underground in areas where they are used in excess. These chemicals easily wash into rivers and lakes and seep into the groundwater as well.

The pesticide Atrazine has been linked to hormonal imbalances, and other pesticides have demonstrated signs of violent illness in lab animals after just a few days of exposure.

Arsenic is another dangerous natural poison that is linked to the increase of certain cancer types and can also easily be found in tap water. The chemical occurs naturally in rocks and soil, making water contamination almost impossible to prevent.

The severity of its effects on human health has private well owners periodically checking for contamination, along with an arsenic-specific removing test at water-treatment plants. There is also a strong urgency to inspect for lead poisoning in tap water.

Corroded metal pipelines are the cause of lead contamination, and with most pipes being underground, how often are they really checked or changed?

The lead neurotoxin found in drinking water was recently a major problem in Flint, Michigan. Further testing found that ingestion can lead to the development of permanent learning disabilities, especially in children.

The last potential ingredient in your tap water, that I am mentioning, is pharma (aka other people’s medication that makes its way into our water supply).

Some pharmaceutical products are easily removed in the water treatment process because they mainly contaminate surface water, but some medications and birth control make their way into the systems through human waste and then into rivers and lakes that contribute to our water supply.

I share this information not to scare you, but to warn you. I’m not saying that tap water contains all these things and that it should not be trusted; you should just be aware of the risks that potentially exist in your clear glass of water.