You’re probably aware that drinking water directly affects your health. But if you live in an area with contaminated or poorly treated water, this is especially true and can have devastating effects. It may happen when chemicals and other contaminants enter the water supply through leaky pipes and sewage systems or due to contamination by industrial waste.
Here are some more devastating effects that can be caused by drinking contaminated water.
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The uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body is referred to as cancer, which encompasses a range of diseases. Cancer can develop in any part of the body, and common types include lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Exposure to contaminated water has been linked to a heightened risk of various types of cancer. Arsenic is one of the most well-known contaminants in water that can cause cancer. Arsenic is a toxic element occurring naturally in the earth’s crust, contaminating groundwater sources.
Long-term exposure to water contaminated with arsenic can lead to the development of skin, lung, bladder, kidney, and liver cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
As reported by the American Cancer Society, cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death globally, with the number of cases projected to rise in the next two decades. Additionally, in 2020, 70% of nearly 10 million cancer-related deathsworldwide occurred in low-and-middle-income countries.
While not all cancer cases are caused by drinking contaminated water, reducing exposure to contaminants in drinking water is an important step in reducing the risk of cancer.
In addition, TorHoerman Law has indicated that water contamination at Camp Lejeune was a primary cause of multiple types of cancer among individuals residing there. These cancers include bladder, breast, cervical, esophageal, kidney, liver, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung, ovarian, and stomach cancer.
2. Gastrointestinal Illnesses
It is a common cause of illness, and many things can cause it. However, they’re often the result of a bacterial infection and can be spread through contaminated water, food, or other sources.
Gastrointestinal illnesses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, and headaches. They also may lead to fever or chills as your body fights off an infection. The signs and symptoms vary depending on what’s causing them.
According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, evidence shows that there may be a connection between water contamination at Camp Lejeune and illness related to the stomach and intestines.
Even decades after exposure, people who lived at the base have higher rates of health problems related to their exposure to toxic chemicals in the water supply. So it’s necessary to know how to treat GI illness or prevent it in the future.
Individuals who lived or served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 and have experienced gastrointestinal illnesses may qualify for compensation via the Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit. This lawsuit is a class action against the federal government, alleging negligence in managing the situation.
3. Hepatitis A
Drinking contaminated water is one of the most common ways to contract hepatitis A. It is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can cause mild to severe illness. The virus spreads from person to person through contact with an infected person’s stool, which can happen if you do not wash your hands after changing diapers or going to the bathroom.
Common symptoms of this condition may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, jaundice, as well as changes in urine color to dark and stool color to pale. In rare cases, hepatitis A leads to liver failure or death. However, according to John Hopkins Medicine, about 85% of people recover completely within three months without lasting liver damage.
4. Kidney Disease
Drinking contaminated water can lead to kidney disease. Kidney disease is one of the most common health problems in people exposed to contaminated water. However, kidney disease can lead to other problems as well. For example, if your kidneys are not working appropriately, it could lead to heart disease or high blood pressure, two leading causes of death worldwide.
Kidney disease is associated with other health problems such as heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. Regrettably, accessing the necessary treatment for individuals with kidney disease can be challenging. It could be because of a lack of access to healthcare or simply because people are unaware that they have the condition in the first place.
People with kidney disease may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). TCE and PCE are known to cause kidney cancer, among other serious health issues.
5. Neurological Disorders
Drinking contaminated water is a critical health risk, but few people know the potential dangers. Neurological disorders are the fifth most common disease caused by contaminated drinking water.
Neurological disorders include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Symptoms of these diseases include muscle weakness, difficulty speaking and swallowing, and loss of balance or coordination.
Neurological disorders caused by contaminated drinking water are more common in developing countries, where drinking water is often poor. However, even developed countries have experienced outbreaks of these diseases linked to drinking water contamination.
6. Reproductive Problems
If you’re a woman who was pregnant while drinking contaminated water and your baby was born, then there is a chance that they may have suffered from birth defects. These can include heart problems, brain damage, or even death. Additionally, women who drank contaminated water during pregnancy and breastfed their babies may have passed on the harmful chemicals to their children.
If you were exposed to contaminated water over a long period, it could lead to long-term damage to your reproductive system. People residing in areas with water sources contaminated with industrial chemicals had many reproductive problems. The list includes:
- Low sperm count.
- Low testosterone levels in men.
- Infertility in men and women.
- Menstrual irregularities.
Being aware of the health risks of drinking contaminated water is necessary. Not only can it cause cancer and reproductive issues, but it can also lead to other diseases and conditions that can have devastating effects on your body.
If you notice any changes in your health after drinking tap water or swimming in a pool for an extended period, contact a doctor immediately. They can help determine whether or not something is wrong with your drinking water source.