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Metal contaminants in our drinking water

It is a known fact that metals naturally occur on any natural freshwater source. Our bodies through ages of adaptation had evolved to naturally render them harmless and some are even considered as micronutrients in small amounts like copper.

The body could absorb about 1,000 ug(micrograms) of copper a day. However any amount beyond that may cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, and nausea. Unless contamination is caused by pollution, any naturally occurring amounts of copper on our water source is acceptable.

Certain heavy metals like Mercury are considered toxic even at small amounts. Health effects are usually related to brain damage resulting to memory loss and hallucinations. It could also result to other diseases like, Acrodynia (pink disease), Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease. Mercury contamination of natural water sources in central California caused by abandoned mercury mines has affected at least 100,000 residents. These abandoned mercury mines had been closed for more than two decades now. Only recently that studies have confirmed the higher body levels of mercury on local Indians who rely on natural water sources.

Like mercury, lead also damages the nervous system. Earliest evidence of lead artifacts date back 6400 B.C. Lead has a long list of industrial use, notably for car batteries and semiconductor applications. Its wide use makes it a potential pollutant once these items are discarded improperly. Water pollution through solid and industrial wastes is the main cause of lead contamination. Indications of lead poisoning may vary but has been observed to be related to stunted growth, learning disabilities, and anti-social behaviors of children. In general, lead poisoning effects tend to be long term and irreversible.

Another notorious metalloid found in drinking water is the arsenic. First studied in 1250 by Albertus Magnus, it is widely used for wood treatment due to its toxicity to wood insects. Its poisonous reputation had made it a favorite tool for murder mystery tales. Throughout history, a lot of famous victims including Napoleon himself allegedly died of arsenic poisoning. Although naturally occurring on 200 types of mineral species, most groundwater contaminations are caused by mining, smelting of non-ferrous metals and burning of fossil fuels. When ingested through drinking water and depending on the dosage, symptoms may vary from skin disease, hearing loss, diabetes and cancer.

These are just some of the metals that are naturally present on ground water. As long as the acceptable levels are achieved, none of the harmful symptoms would occur. Protecting our drinking water at home should be a primary objective for all.


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Donna Hoffman is the owner of http://www.ezClearwater.com , provider of the highest quality, earth-friendly water purification products for home, office, pool and spa. Our goal is to share products that are “Good to You and Mother Earth Too.”

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October 12, 2009 at 1:19 am Comments (4)