5 Common Types of Contaminants in Drinking Water and Their Effects

5 min read

Water, known to many as the universal solvent, has countless uses which cut across various fields. While you may consider clear water to be clean water, there are a variety of contaminants which can hide in drinking water and cause harmful effects to your health. The realization of this has led many individuals to take measures to ensure that their water is clean and toxin-free. Outlined here for you are some of the most common contaminants that may be lurking in your water:

  1. Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical element which is widely used industrially as a disinfectant, bleaching agent and antiseptic among other uses. It is used in treating swimming pools, and it is also added to drinking water in trace quantities as part of its purification process. This is the reason behind water having an elementary taste of chlorine. Despite its significance in the water purification processes, chlorine is not completely harmless. It reacts with water to form hydrochloric acid in your body, which could result in excessive acidity and poisoning. Some of the associated symptoms of chlorine poisoning include coughing, blurred vision, and irritation in your eyes, ears and throat among others.

  1. Lead

This is one of the major contaminant chemicals found in water. Many water pipes are made of lead and when these pipes begin to corrode, perhaps due to highly acidic water, significant amounts of the metal can leak into the water. Lead is highly toxic, especially to young children, infants and fetuses. The effects of lead toxicity include damage to the nervous system, lowering IQ and anemia. It can also lead to developmental problems and anomalies when pregnant women are exposed to it. It has been observed to also have an effect on the cardiovascular system.

  1. Arsenic

It is one of the chemical elements used industrially and contained in many minerals. It is contained in lead alloys and is also used as a wood preservative and in the manufacture of insecticides and poisons. Contaminated well water is one of the main sources of arsenic poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal tract infections. It is also a top carcinogen and has been associated with many types of cancer such as lung, kidney and even skin cancer.

  1. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls, unlike many other contaminants, aren’t naturally-occurring but rather manmade. They were widely used in the manufacture of electrical equipment such as transformers, electronics and other substances like paint. They were banned in 1979 but some residues are still present and when they degrade, they can get into contact with water sources. When ingested, PCBs have been observed to have negative effects on the immune system and also neurotoxicity.

  1. Dioxin

These are a class of compounds which may be released when burning down certain compounds. Ultimately, they end up in water sources and could have the following effects following ingestion: crippling your body systems such as the nervous and immune systems. They are also highly carcinogenic and could cause various birth defects in unborn babies.

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