Quality and safety of drinking water

Many people are interested in the quality and safety of drinking water. Since rivers and lakes are easily polluted by industrial waste and runoff from agricultural areas, groundwater is the main source of high-quality drinking water. However, such water is not always safe. Many wells, sources of drinking water, are also polluted. Today, water pollution is regarded as one of the major threats to health. The most common contaminants present in water are by-products from the process of disinfecting water with chlorine. These by-products increase the risk of bladder and colon cancer. Pregnant women who consume large amounts of these by-products are at an increased risk of miscarriage. Drinking water may contain nitrates. Nitrate sources in groundwater (including private wells) are typically agricultural waste, chemical fertilizers and manure from feedlots. In the human body, nitrates can be converted into nitrosamines, carcinogens. Water that comes into contact with old pipes and lead solder at pipe joints becomes saturated with lead, especially if it is warm, oxidized or softened. Children with high blood lead may experience problems such as stunted growth, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and anemia. Exposure to lead also leads to an increased risk of reproductive diseases. Polluted water is also fraught with diseases such as cryptosporidiosis. Its symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, and a flu-like condition. These symptoms persist for seven to ten days. Cryptosporidium parvum, the protozoan responsible for the spread of cryptosporidiosis, is often present in lakes and rivers contaminated with sewage or animal waste. This organism has a high resistance to chlorine and other disinfectants. It can cause disease even if it enters the human body in negligible amounts. Boiling water is the most effective way to neutralize Cryptosporidium parvum. Tap water can be purified from it thanks to reverse osmosis or using a special filter. Concern about pesticides, lead, by-products of water chlorination, industrial solvents, nitrates, polychlorinated biphenyls and other water contaminants has led many consumers to prefer bottled water, believing it to be healthier, cleaner and safer. Bottled water is available in different formats. 

Spring water, which is mostly sold in bottles, is water that comes from underground sources. It is believed that such sources are not subject to pollution, although this is doubtful. Another source of drinking water is tap water, and it is usually disinfected or filtered before being bottled. Typically, purified water is distilled or subjected to a reverse osmosis or similar process. Yet the main reason for the popularity of bottled water is its taste, not purity. Bottled water is disinfected with ozone, a gas that leaves no aftertaste, so it tastes better than chlorinated water. But is bottled water superior to tap water in terms of purity and safety? Hardly. Bottled water does not necessarily meet higher health standards than tap water. Research shows that many bottled water brands contain the same chemicals and by-products as tap water, such as trihalomethanes, nitrates, and harmful metal ions. Approximately a quarter of all bottled water sold is simply treated tap water obtained from the public water supply. Plastic bottles, in which water is located, supplement its composition with a whole bunch of compounds harmful to health. People using filters should remember that filters need proper maintenance and should be replaced periodically. Since clean water is essential for the body, the quality of the water consumed should be a priority for a healthy lifestyle. We should do everything in our power to protect drinking water sources from pollution.

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