Water Pollution

Water Pollution
H20: So Simple, Yet So Important

In the bleak future that the film Soylent Green envisions, water is a priceless commodity. All drinking water must be boiled before it can be imbibed and is rather difficult to find in the first place. Further, everyday luxuries that many people take for granted, such as washing one’s hands or bathing, simply cannot be done because there is no water to spare. In the same vein, or should I say pipe, indoor plumbing in the film is a creature comfort reserved only for the wealthy and well to-do. In order to ensure that our current water levels and supplies are not drastically depleted, as they are in the future Soylent Green depicts, we must prevent water pollution and discover methods that promote aquatic sustainability in our everyday lives. 

  • Water is a fundamental and integral part of human survival. We imbibe it, cook with it, bathe in it, and use it to filter and dispose of sewage.
    • It is imperative that human beings have access to clean water. When water is contaminated due to oil spills, sewage leaks, toxic waste, and a myriad of other pollutants, a strain is placed on both humans and the environment, thus creating an even greater ecological imbalance. Water pollution can effect virtually any body of water including oceans, coasts, lakes, rivers, and streams.
    • A few of the most common water contaminants are: lead, raw sewage, toxic waste, and chemicals like cadmium.
    • “Water is considered to be the most important resource for sustaining ecosystems, which provide life-­‐supporting services for people, animals, and plants. Because contaminated water is a major cause of illness and death, water quality is a determining factor in human poverty, education, and economic opportunities.”
      -­‐The CDC                                                                                                                            Dark Water: The Dangers of Waterborne Pathogens
      • “Today, hundreds of millions of people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water, leaving them at risk for water sanitation and hygiene related diseases. Worldwide, 1.5 million children die annually from diarrheal illnesses that are caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene”.
        – The CDC
      • In regions in which overpopulation is an issue (i.e. India, Africa) and there is a lack of proper sanitation and sewage systems many contract and die from waterborne diseases such as cholera and E. Coli. Hence, boiling or not boiling water is the difference between life and death.
      • “Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by an infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms of cholera include watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps”. – The CDC
      • Haiti 2010-­‐2011: Ten months after the devastating January 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people a cholera epidemic began to emerge.
      • This outbreak caused more than 470,000 cases and approximately 7,000 deaths. However, the unfortunate truth in regard to waterborne diseases is that most of the deaths they cause are never reported or properly diagnosed in developing countries
      • The prevention and minimization of water pollution is imperative in the fight to improve drinking water quality. Such interventions include disinfecting water at the household level as well as water management at the community level.
      • Life in Plastic: Maybe it still is Fantastic...
        • As the Aqua song goes, “Life in plastic, it’s fantastic...” but is it really? There has been a maelstrom of controversy surrounding the production and use of plastic water bottles over the last several years. Many believe that plastic water bottles are unsafe, stating that they leech carcinogenic chemicals into the water they contain. Others claim that the bottles are simply a rip-­‐off and that the water they provide is of no better quality than tap water.
        • According to plasticsinfo.org, most convenience-­‐size beverage bottles sold in the United States are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET has become the material of choice for bottled beverages because it is lightweight and shatter resistant. PET has been extensively tested for safety. Bottles made with PET are widely used for everything from water and fruit juice to soft drinks and even beer.
        • The recent hubbub surrounding BPA or Bisphenol A and its potential detriments has also led to a questioning of the “plastic” water lifestyle. BPA has been in use for more than 40 years in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles and reusable cups and the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including canned liquid infant formula. Trace amounts of BPA can be found in some foods packaged in these containers.
        • “First synthesized in 1891, Bisphenol A came into use as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Later, chemists discovered that, combined with phosgene (used during World War I as a toxic gas) and other compounds, BPA yielded the clear, polycarbonate plastic of shatter-­‐resistant headlights, eyeglass lenses, DVDs and baby bottles”. – Scientific American
        • In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration conducted a review of toxicology research and information on BPA, and, at that time, judged food-­‐related materials containing BPA on the market to be safe. But recent studies have reported subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals. While BPA is not proven to harm children or adults, these newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA.
        • So, is it worth the risk? Is it better to drink clean, filtered water from potentially hazardous water bottles or to go “old school” and just drink straight from the hose? The choice is yours. The risk is your own. 


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