Each day, more and more news pieces and researches pop that highlight overwhelming issues regarding U.S. drinking water supply quality that puts Americans at risk for a number of diseases and health complications. The state of California makes no exception, unfortunately. A recent investigation reveals that cancer cases will exponentially grow as a result of water pollution.
- An investigation directed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that an estimated 15,500 cancer cases could stem among California occupants who drink the polluted water on a regular basis throughout their lifetime.
- Communities with the most elevated danger of cancer development have especially abnormal amounts of arsenic in the drinking water.
We usually rely on our senses to figure out if the water we consume is safe or not, as it tends to smell foul, taste metallic, or have a brownish or yellow color when contaminants are present. Woefully, there are contaminants that seem covered up to the unaided eye. Considering that drinking water systems contain multiple hazardous chemicals and not all of them are easy to discover, as water testing is needed to track them all, it comes as no surprise that a lot of diagnosed cancer cases are a direct result of contaminated tap water consumption over a person's lifetime.
After the most recent investigation discharged by the EWG, Tasha Stoiber stated that an overwhelming amount of the samples tested contained at least two cancer-causing agents, arsenic being the most prevalent pollutant.
Systems where arsenic contamination has come to soaring levels serve a smaller amount of residents, 10,000 or less, and groundwater is heavily relied on. As arsenic is dangerous regardless of the pollution level considering the solid impacts it has on human well-being, occupants are exposed to major medical problems over the course of their lifetime if proper action is not taken.
Where should you go from here? As a California state inhabitant, this inquiry unavoidably emerges as a result of the recently conducted study. Carcinogens in drinking water are an issue that can't be neglected, and there are arrangements that residents can turn to for the estimated cancer prevalence to reduce greatly.
Kelly Reynolds, who is the director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona and was not involved with the study but reached out to make statements based on her vast knowledge and expertise in the domain, said that home consumers should consider adding a water filtration system to filter out carcinogens and avoid consumption.
- As aforementioned, groundwater sullying with arsenic is a standout among the most problematic issues in California. Families who depend on groundwater systems must take suitable action by adding well water whole house systems that treat the water as it enters the house, the point of entry systems being more rigorous at filtering out carcinogens as opposed to alternate water purification methods such as faucet filters.
Why are arsenic levels so high? Arsenic contamination is prevalent, as it is naturally occurring because of geology, and there is the issue of industrial and agricultural exposure that causes it to appear.
Are there other prevalent carcinogens in California tap water? Approximately 16 percent of estimated lifetime cancers could be caused by hexavalent chromium pollution, the source of the lawsuit Erin Brockovich that pinned the consumer advocate and environmental activist against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in 1993.
- Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, naturally occurs from chromium deposits erosion, but it results from industrial processes as well.
Water filtration might be applied by municipalities, but as researches show, pollutants below legal limits contribute to a staggering 85 percent if not more of estimated cancer risks. Thus, it is obvious that the limits must be considerably lower for these pollutants. Meanwhile, until proper action is taken at a higher level and residents can enjoy healthier drinking water in their homes, it is up to the people to reduce exposure through at-home filtration.
- EPA standard for arsenic: 0.010 milligrams per liter or 10 parts per billion.
- EPA standard for chromium: 0.1 milligrams per liter or 100 parts per billion.
The calculations conducted are not perfect, as it hasn't been assessed how and if the pollutants encountered interact with each other and what results after a potential "clash," but the study does open up a dialogue towards a more drastic regulation of water contamination treatment that ultimately benefits U.S. citizens in all states, not only California, as water pollution is among the most worrying issues for modern Americans.
- Despite the recent findings, most California water systems actually meet the legal standards for water contaminants. Thus, it makes sense that the right response should be a change of regulations, as the current standard does not fit needs in terms of human health protection.
Other issues that California residents should take into consideration:
- People must consider that a tainted water supply doesn't only affect their health through direct consumption, as there are other issues that emerge. First off, bathing with impure water can cause skin irritations and other health issues.
- There's the issue of appliances and household systems that rely on water in their processes underperforming or being damaged in areas where hard water levels exceed acceptable levels, thus water softening being needed to properly handle the situation.
- Another aspect that people tend to overlook is that even the air indoors gets polluted as a result of contaminated tap water, as, after bathing, for example, the pollutant-filled steam invades the bathroom and causes inhabitants to directly breathe in particles that can alter the health of their respiratory system.
Thus, it's not only cancer California residents need to worry about, as there is a wide range of effects caused by the overwhelming water pollution crisis the state is confronted with. Immediate action should be taken by all households who have the means and possibilities to do so, and stricter rules for water sanitization must be applied to prevent the somber statistic released by the study.