Top 10 Reported Causes of Water Contamination

While many of us think of water contamination as something that happens outside of the United States, US public water supplies are pushed to their limits more and more each year as the demand for clean and contaminant-free drinking water grows with the public. As best efforts are made by those in charge of water purification and the monitoring of public water health, slip ups happen and some issues are left free to slide by.

On average, most Americans have access to some of the most advanced water supply systems in the world. Although advanced water systems are in place, drinking water outbreaks and even boil water notices may be more common than believed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported on top causes for public drinking water outbreaks and included public exposure to some of the following bacteria, microorganisms, and substances to be the cause for many public water contamination illnesses.

  1. Giardia– This microscopic parasite is often cause for a diarrheal illness known as giardiasis.
  2. Legionella– A bacterium that, when digested, can lead to a lung infections known as Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac Fever.
  3. Norovirus– This highly contagious virus can cause stomach and intestine inflammation. Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain are common side effects of drinking this kind of contaminated water.
  4. Shigella– The bacteria that causes the stomach infection Shigellosis. Stomach problems, diarrhea, and fever can occur but will not likely require hospitalization. 
  5. Campylobacter– The bacterium causes Campylobacteriosis. Side effects are very similar to Shigellosis.
  6. Copper– While this metal may sound harmless and common to the average water consumer, it can actually be cause for stomach irritation when ingested at high levels. Extreme levels of copper can damage the liver and kidneys.
  7. Salmonella– If you thought raw chicken and eggs were nasty, try drinking water contaminated with salmonella. This common bacteria causes 1.2 million illnesses each year in the USA. Severe diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps can lead to 12 to 72 hours of painful sickness.
  8. Hepatitis A– When found in water, Hepatitis A can lead to serious liver problems. 

  9. Cryptosporidium– This microscopic parasite causes the disease Cryptosporidosis. Its most common symptom is diarrhea.

  10. Excessive Fluoride- While many public water supplies are intentionally laced with this element to improve oral health, it can be cause for concern when consumed at incorrect levels. Incorrect measurement of fluoride levels can lead to a condition known as fluorosis which damages the teeth and bones. Prevention of this mineral overdose can be done using the correct water filter.

Water safety is an issue, which should not be taken lightly as the dire effects of contaminated water can cause anything from slight temporary pain and discomfort to life altering illness, ailments, and health conditions. When the well-being of individuals is put in jeopardy due to the contaminants in a public water supply, no amount of mineral, bacteria, or other harmful substance should be justifiable in a water source that you and your family use daily. If protecting your family is a priority, simply installing a water filter or water purification device in your own home may be the simple solution you need for such a serious problem.

Read on to also learn facts about boil water notices and what you can do to protect you and your family in the event of one.

Boil Water Alerts Infographic

Written by greenlivingguy

The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from: # Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions) # Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman # Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel # Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky # Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley # Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke # Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley # Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea # and more green living books to follow.