Water contamination can be a serious public health issue. It can cause health problems that range from skin rashes and eye irritation to health conditions like cancer and birth defects.
Even though your local water utility has taken precautions to ensure that your water is safe, it is possible that your water supply could be contaminated. Water contamination can happen when there is an accident that releases toxic substances into the water supply. It can also occur when there is an intentional release of toxic substances into the water supply. More often than not, water contamination occurs due to human error.
What Is Water Contamination?
Water contamination occurs when toxic substances are mixed with the water supply. Toxins can come from industrial and agricultural pollution, but it can also come from improper transportation of chemicals or from the improper disposal of chemicals. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines water contamination as “the release or threat of release of hazardous substances into a water supply.”
How Does Water Contamination Affect Your Health?
The EPA has classified contaminated water as a Class A carcinogen, meaning that it is known to cause cancer in humans. The EPA has also classified a number of toxic substances as “hazardous waste” which means they are known to cause cancer and other health problems.
Water contamination can cause skin rashes, eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, and even brain damage. Children may be more susceptible to the effects of water contamination. If you are drinking contaminated water, it can cause gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, vomiting, and even organ damage. Water contamination can also lead to respiratory problems, such as asthma and lung cancer.
Signs Of Symptoms Of Water Contamination Poisoning
- Watery eyes and burning eyes/nose/throat
- Skin rashes, hives, and itching
- Redness and swelling of the skin, including redness in the eyes and on the face
- Nausea and vomiting, especially if the water is cold and you have had it for a long time
- Diarrhea and abdominal cramps, especially if you have had the water for a long time
The symptoms of water contamination poisoning can vary depending on the chemical in the water. Some of the chemicals that can cause problems with the body include:
- Chlorine gas: Chlorine gas can cause severe eye irritation, skin rashes, and respiratory problems. It can be especially dangerous in children who breathe in chlorine gas because it can cause irreversible lung damage.
- Chlordane: Chlordane is an insecticide that causes skin rashes, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. If you drink contaminated water for a long period, it can lead to organ damage and cancer.
- Trichloroethylene (TCE): TCE is an industrial solvent that causes eye irritation, redness, dryness of the skin, and respiratory problems.
How Can Contaminated Water Get Into Your System?
There are two ways contaminated water can get into your system:
- Direct Ingestion:Drinking contaminated water directly can lead to severe intestinal problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting. While it is not recommended to drink contaminated water directly, it is possible that someone could drink contaminated water directly. The contamination would likely come from an industrial accident or a chemical spill.
- Indirect Ingestion: Contaminated drinking water may also be ingested by other people who drink the same contaminated water source. This is called indirect ingestion. For example, if you are drinking bottled water that was contaminated with another chemical, you may be exposed to that chemical through indirect ingestion.
Examples Of Water Contamination
- The Love Canal Lawsuit: In 1949, a chemical company called Hooker Chemical was releasing chemicals into the soil around their plant in Love Canal in New York state. In the years that followed, people living near Love Canal began to complain about strange smells coming from the area. In 1953, Congress passed a law requiring Hooker Chemical to clean up its mess by building a new landfill for its chemical waste.
- The Camp Lejeune Incident: In 1992, a group of people filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DoD) over allegations that they had been drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina since 1972. The plaintiffs argued that they were exposed to dioxin through ingestion of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The case was settled in 1998 with the DoD agreeing to pay $85 million to the plaintiffs in exchange for dropping their lawsuit against the federal government.
- The Flint Water Crisis: In 2014, Flint, Michigan switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River as part of its effort to save money on its water utility bills. This decision caused widespread lead poisoning in Flint residents as well as other health problems such as rashes and hair loss. The state government sent bottled drinking water to Flint residents for free after learning about the issue in 2016 but it is unknown how many bottles were distributed before this information became public knowledge.
Can I File A Claim If I Develop Illnesses From Water Contamination?
If you develop any of the following illnesses after drinking contaminated drinking water or inhaling contaminated air, you may have a claim against your local water utility:
- Eye irritations and rashes: You may have a claim for eye irritation if you develop rashes or skin rashes after drinking contaminated water or inhaling contaminated air.
- Gastrointestinal problems: You may have a claim for gastrointestinal problems if you experience diarrhea or vomiting after drinking contaminated drinking water or inhaling contaminated air.
- Respiratory problems: You may have a claim for respiratory problems if you develop any type of respiratory illness after drinking contaminated drinking water or inhaling contaminated air.
Water contamination is an ongoing concern because humans are constantly making mistakes that lead to the release of toxic substances into our drinking water sources. These releases may be accidental or intentional which makes it difficult for us to know how much harmful substances are being released into our drinking water sources every day. If you have developed any illnesses after drinking contaminated drinking water or inhaling contaminated air, you may be able to file a claim against your local water utility for compensation for your medical expenses and pain and suffering damages.