How safe is the water you drink?

Have you ever given a second thought as to whether the water you are drinking is pure? Of the 8 glasses of water that you drink every day, do you actually know how many harmful germs you are taking in?

Water purification systems in our homes usually do a good job of filtering water and making it safe for drinking, but why then do we still fall prey to food poisoning, typhoid and dysentery?

To understand this, its important to uncover the basics first. Read on to know more about what pure water actually implies, the popular and common contaminants of water and their sources, and how these contaminants can greatly impact your health.

Pure water: Water that is free from all materials and substances that may make it toxic to human life and unfit for consumption is termed as pure water. Innumerable deaths are caused every year due to lack of clean drinking water facilities in the country.

Common contaminants and their sources: The most common source of contaminated water is toxic matter from industries and factories, which is discarded into drinking water bodies. Leakages in sewer lines, septic tanks, raw sewage overflow and dumping of waste into water bodies is yet another reason of contamination.

Nitrates, toxic minerals, salts, micro-organisms like e.coli, giardia, helminthes and cryptosporidium are some common contaminates which claim many lives every year.

Another sad truth of the state of water safety in India is that despite the presence of advanced systems of water purification, many still fall prey to such illnesses. This is mostly because many a times, faults and improper functioning of the purification systems go unnoticed and ignored.

Health issues caused due to intake of contaminated water: A large percentage of deaths occurring today due to diarrhoea are mostly observed in children under the age of 5 years, and this is most commonly observed in developing countries. Improper sanitation is a major problem, and should be resolved at the earliest.

Intake of contaminated water can lead to several health problems, some of which are listed below:

Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is one of the most common health issues that can occur as a result of drinking water contamination. Though diarrhoea is not a grave disease, if ignored, it can prove to be fatal. Vomiting, nausea, severe dehydration are all common symptoms of diarrhoea.

Typhoid: Caused due to the bacterium salmonella typhi, typhoid is yet another health issue that can occur after intake of contaminated water. Clinical and lab reports confirm the presence of typhoid bacteria, after which treatment measures should be taken immediately.

Chronic health conditions: Toxic minerals taken in through contaminated water though do not show their harmful effects immediately, but in the long run, they can build up and cause a huge, sometimes permanent damage to the body. Chronic health effects like liver and kidney damage, cancer, birth defects and permanent damage to the immune and nervous system can also occur due to contaminated water.

Acute health effects: High levels of contaminants can often cause severe health problems, almost immediately. Skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and lung irritation are a few examples.

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