95% of freshwater in America comes from groundwater, and it is this source that provides drinking water for half of all Americans. However, groundwater pollution is becoming an increasing problem as 70% of industrial wastewater is dumped into bodies of water that then leak into and pollute this ground water supply. 80% of hazardous waste sites within the United States have already impacted the surrounding groundwater. This is a severe problem that needs to be taken seriously, before millions of people become adversely affected by this issue.
Effects of Groundwater Contamination
Not only is the environment impacted by the contamination of chemical waste, but illnesses due to the contamination can be spread through the animal and human populations due to the consumption of the affected water. Hepatitis and cholera can both be easily contracted through ingestion of the water. The scariest part is that the contamination can go undetected for long bouts of time while the communities affected unknowingly continue using the water. You may have heard of blue baby syndrome, clinically named methemoglobinemia. This illness can lead to congenital heart diseases, and is cause by ingesting formula that is mixed with water that contains high nitrate contamination. Additionally, water polluted with benzene has been linked to the development of some cancers.
The contamination of ground water doesn’t just affect communities, but it can affect whole industries. Poor water quality from pollution can have negative impacts on the fishing industries in particular, as the quality and amount of fish they are able to catch can be dependent on the health and purity of the water.
What Can Be Done to Rectify This?
The Environmental Protection Agency has in place, strict regulations to try and stem the contamination from industries that produce toxic waste; however, accidents and bending of the rules does happen. Oftentimes a company who is responsible for the contamination will go undetected for years, until symptoms of that pollution begin to appear. While regulations can do there part, monitoring is needed to ensure that as few leaks and unethical dumps take place as possible.
As a civilian you can help take steps on your own. Make sure you know what you can and cannot safely dispose of down the drain, and if you notice someone using unsafe measures around your neighborhood, don’t hesitate to intervene. Someone disposing of chemicals improperly can have an effect on your water supply, and it could be that they are unaware themselves. We can make a difference on a smaller scale, and even on a larger one by petitioning stricter oversight and regulations when it comes to industrial dumping.
Whether it is the safety of your family or you entire community, we have a responsibility to speak up about concerns in your area, and around the country. Water is essential to every human life, and keeping our sources clean and contaminate free can ensure better health for generations to come.