Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Insane Realities about Water Pollution

7 Insane Realities about Water Pollution

Link to Dr. Group's Healthy Living blog

7 Insane Realities about Water Pollution

Posted: 08 Jan 2015 07:00 AM PST


Our water is one of our most precious resources, and without clean water life as we know it would not exist. Water provides electrolytes and supports our energy levels. While you're likely already doing your part for conservation, pollution of our water is trying to reverse your efforts. DId you know, for example, that water pollution has been linked to stillbirths? It’s frightening to think at what water, our most basic necessity, could be harboring when it is left to full exposure to industry.

Shocking Facts about Water Pollution

Water pollution is a very real threat to our species, and to all life on this planet. We can last weeks without food but only a few days without clean, pure water. Water also provides a large number of health benefits, including weight loss. Did you know there are a lot of sneaky things about water pollution you might’ve never realized? It’s only the realization of the shocking truths about water pollution that can curb the tide and cease the practices that cause it. Here are 7 truly insane realities about water pollution you must read.

1. Industrial Pollution is Turning Our Water into Jelly

Remember that classic Saturday Night Live skit about Swill drinking water? Well, what was originally meant to be tongue-in-cheek might not be too far off. A recent study in Canada noted that decades of industrial pollution is leeching calcium deposits from lake soil and replacing it with acid. [1] This acidic environment, along with decreasing oxygen levels driven by drastic climate change, has caused native plankton to die and Holopedium, a jelly-like species of plankton that doesn't require as much calcium, has moved in. Scientists worry that this invasion will eventually become so bad that drinking water reserves will be affected. [2] Imagine cupping a handful of water only to come back with a handful of goo—truly, a handful of swill.

2. Drinking Water Has Been Linked to Stillbirth

New research from the Boston University School of Public Health suggests that exposure to the neurotoxin tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is linked to a higher risk of stillbirth. [3] The lead scientist surveyed women who had given birth in the contaminated towns between 1969 and 1983. [4] It seems that in the 60s, residents of certain Massachusetts towns were unknowingly drinking and bathing in the poison as a result of coatings sprayed in water pipes. The toxin wasn't discovered in the water until 1979 simply because no one expected it to be there. In addition to increased risks for stillbirth and placental ruptures, PCE—still used in dry cleaning—is linked to cancer, memory problems, and birth defects.

3. The Amish May be Contributing to the Problem

No one's pointing fingers here. We're all part of the pollution problem–even, oddly enough, the Amish. It turns out some Amish communities aren’t properly storing or collecting manure, and because of that, high levels of nitrates and E. coli are building up in Amish water wells. In fact, over 85 percent of Amish farms were found to be in violation by the EPA. [5] In addition to their own drinking water, the Amish community may be unknowingly polluting the Chesapeake Bay with their agricultural waste. In 2007, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, a large Amish community, produced over 61 millions tons of agricultural waste. To put it into perspective, that's more than six times what most other counties in the area produced! [6]

4. Arsenic May be Floating in Well Water

Arsenic is often the poison of choice in murder mysteries, and for very good reason. This toxic compound, while naturally present at very small doses, can still prove fatal over long-term exposure. A recent study examined 100 water wells across the Barnett Shale in north Texas and found that 30 percent of wells within a 2-mile radius of active natural gas drilling showed significant amounts of heavy metals, arsenic included. [7] Over time, increased levels of arsenic exposure can lead to cardiovascular issues. Another study even suggested high levels of exposure to arsenic poses an even greater risk among smokers. [8] [9]

5. Polluting Water Carries Little Punishment

Industrial pollution is a problem, for sure, but often the penalties to these huge industries are laughable. The abysmal small fines companies have to pay for harming the environment only tend to perpetuate repetitive behavior. Take the recent case of DuPont, a chemical giant. In 2010, the company was responsible for a series of chemical leaks, one that even led to the death of an employee. What was the fine the EPA settled on? One of the world's largest chemical companies that regularly makes billions of dollars each year only had to pay 1.3 million. [10] While it seems industries are getting off with a slap on the wrist, many of these operations come with a price tag we might not be able to pay: clean drinking water. [11]

6. The EPA No Longer Has Environmental Safety as Top Priority

A recent watchdog report found the EPA is not consistently enforcing regulations surrounding industrial pollution, and these toxins are finding their way into our waterways via sewage plants. [12] The agency hasn't even updated the list of regulated sewage plant chemicals since 1981! It's not all the EPA's doing though; some of the blame falls with our government. We won't get too political here, but recently the Republican House approved a bill to block the Obama administration from clarifying some terms in the Clean Water Act. [13] Hopefully things will change on that front, as it is our water and our future generations that are at stake here.

7. The Battle for Clean Water Can be Literal

Here in the US, water pollution is a definite problem. In some places, like Iraq, there is a literal battle over resources as warring factions fight for control of the dams along the Tigris and Euphrates. [14] Water wars are not a new thing; in the Middle East, water is as valuable as land. The idea of an actual war over water is a bit frightening and really puts things into perspective. I guess as long as we have the ability to turn on the tap and receive relatively clean drinking water, we are richer than we think.

What You Can Do

I recommend drinking pure distilled water, adding organic apple cider vinegar to increase nutrient quality. Be sure to look into a high-quality water filter if you prefer tap water. I also suggest getting a filter for your shower or bath to further decrease toxic exposure.

What are your thoughts about current water pollution? Do you know of something not covered here? Be sure to tell us in the comments.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


  1. Feltman, Rachel. Industrial pollution is turning lakes into 'jelly'. The Washington Post.
  2. Jeziorski, A et al. The jellification of north temperate lakes. Proceedings B. 282 (1800).
  3. Aschengrau, Ann et al. Prenatal drinking-water exposure to tetrachloroethylene and ischemic placental disease: a retrospective cohort study. Environmental Health. 13 (72).
  4. Sullivan, Gail. In Massachusetts, contaminated drinking water linked to stillbirths. The Washington Post.
  5. Kobell, Rona. The Amish: Makers of jam, fine cabinetry, and polluted rivers. Grist.
  6. Bhanoo, Sindya. Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny. The New York Times.
  7. McPhate, Christian. Study shows potentially unhealthy levels of arsenic in water wells across area. Denton Record-Chronicle.
  8. Blum, Deborah. A Heart Risk in Drinking Water. The New York Times.
  9. Chen, Y et al. Arsenic Exposure from drinking water and mortality from cardiovascular disease in Bangladesh: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 342.
  10. Ward, Jr., K. DuPont agrees to $1.3M in chemical leak fines. The Charleston Gazette.
  11. Loftis, Randy L. Texas drinking water tainted by natural gas operations, scientists find. The Dallas Morning News.
  12. Cama, Timothy. Auditors fault EPA for lax chemical safeguards. The Hill.
  13. Daly, Matthew. House votes to block EPA water rules. The New York Times.
  14. Pearce, Fred. Mideast Water Wars: In Iraq, A Battle for Control of Water2. Environment 360.

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