By Miah Huerta
For millions in America, water is a life-giving resource that provides countless benefits from drinking to bathing and even swimming. According to NSF.org, about 71% of people drink water from the tap in the U.S., consuming eight glasses of water per day. As water quality continues to be a growing concern, health risks linked to water contaminants are now leading people across the country to think twice about the kind of water they consume.
CEO and founder of OriginClear and leader in the self-reliant water revolution, Riggs Eckelberry, explains how the water crisis in America is a major concern, with safety playing a key role. “The global water crisis and water issues we are experiencing in the United States are at an all-time high. We are falling behind by $75 billion every year in water infrastructure, which is impacting the quality of water for citizens,” he says. This includes various contaminants that affect drinking water, agriculture systems, and every aspect of daily life. “Arsenic, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, uranium, and microplastics are a constant threat to our communities with adverse health effects that can impact our health. While we’ve largely gotten rid of these plastics, they are still circulating.”
Arsenic, a harmful contaminant in drinking water, naturally occurs in the earth’s mineral deposits and dissolves in groundwater as a result of human activities such as mining and use in animal feed, wood preservatives, and pesticides. “As we’ve seen in Flint, Michigan, high levels of arsenic can cause adverse health effects with long-term or chronic health problems,” states Eckelberry. With an estimated 2.1 million Americans drinking domestic well water high in arsenic, treating affected water systems has become more important than ever. This includes cost-effective methods of reverse osmosis (RO) to remove arsenic from water supplies and reduce exposure.
Additional contaminants like perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) take hundreds to thousands of years to break down in the environment, dubbing them “forever chemicals.” PFAS present a major threat to Americans, showing up in everyday products, from firefighting foam to cookware, cosmetics, carpet treatments, and even dental floss. “People should avoid forever chemicals. Over time, they accumulate in the body and can become harmful,” warns Eckelberry. Along with cancers and thyroid diseases that have been linked to the substances, solutions to clean America’s water from PFAS include decentralized purification systems that citizens can conduct on their own. “Water is our most important commodity and we must work to treat it before it is too late.”
Often associated with nuclear power, uranium is a metallic and radioactive element that has recently been discovered in U.S. public drinking systems. Found throughout the environment in small traces, uranium is a contaminant people are routinely exposed to. While most uranium is thought to pass through the body quickly, risk factors include an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and lung cancer at high levels of exposure. “Among all of the scarcity and toxic water problems, it is high time to disrupt the water industry by improving the failing central infrastructures across the United States,” shares Eckelberry. To keep its water systems free of uranium, the improvement of America’s water supply is a top concern to not only mend but resolve.
Found in numerous consumer and commercial products like bottles, straws, cosmetics, and detergents, microplastics are contaminants we encounter every day that pollute the air, oceans, and food we eat. Measuring less than five millimeters across, tiny pieces break away from larger plastics over time and become too small to spot on Earth and in our bodies. Health issues that cause inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and hormone disruption have also been linked to microplastics as a growing danger to human health. Alongside water treatment systems, to improve the microplastic issue in America, Eckelberry shares what we can do on a day-to-day basis. “Reducing the amount of plastic we use and opting for safer water usage is vital for both our planet’s waters and ourselves. If we work together, we can protect our public health for generations to come.”
As more states raise the alarm about water contaminants, becoming educated about America’s quality of drinking water remains essential to protecting human health and communities across the country. Water makes life possible; we must make every drop count.