Water is life. We all know it. Humans are more than 50% water. We depend on clean water for drinking, sanitation, food production, and industry. And yet, this basic life essential could be making us sick.
"There are an estimated 19 million waterborne illnesses per year due to the contamination of drinking water systems in the U.S., with 5.4 million illnesses from groundwater and 13 million illnesses from surface water systems," writes Michigan State University Nowlin Chair in Water Research Joan B. RoseHomer.
Illness or pathogens from water contamination include:
2. respirator infections
3. skin infections
6. E. coli
7. hepatitis A
8. Legionnaire's Disease
Some of water borne pathogens cause acute illness, but can also lead to chronic conditions including heart, kidney and neurological problems and joint pain. Acute illnesses outbreaks affect whole communities and water districts every year.
RoseHomer points out that "[a]ccording to the Centers for Disease Control in the last national summary (2007-2008), there were 48 outbreaks in 24 states caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. This summer, the Legionella outbreak in Quebec City is being described as one of the deadliest in Canada in 25 years and the disease is also rearing up in Chicago, with reportedly three deaths so far."
Berkey Water Filters Remove Dangerous Pathogens
Berkey customers know that their filters eliminate 99.9999% of pathogens in any water source, but may still be concerned for their neighbors or nation as a whole.
Water Borne Illness Caused by Infrastructure Neglect
According to Green For All's Jeremy Hays, failure to address America's water infrastructure crisis is a missed opportunity to create jobs and boost the economy and it's a problem that will only get worse and more costly to fix as time goes on. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that hospitization for water borne illnesses already costs the United States more than $500 million annually and that does not include other costs of these diseases, such as lost wages and productivity.
The primary source of water borne pathogens in drinking water is sewage and animal waste. "According to the EPA, there are now between 23,000 and 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows in this country each year, and 3.5 million Americans get sick just from swimming in polluted water. Meanwhile, a whopping 40 percent of our lakes and rivers are too polluted to support recreational activities and aquatic life. That just shouldn't be happening in a country as advanced as ours," writes Hays.
Sewage pollution overflowing from leaky pipes or outdated combined sewer overflow systems are a problem for municipal surface water sources and private wells alike. Solving the problem involves tradition pipe repair, treatment plant modernization and upgrade, and innovation such as green infrastructure.