Drinking water can become contaminated at the original water source, during treatment, or during distribution to the home. The levels of contaminants in drinking water are seldom high enough to cause acute health effects. Some of these effects are nausea, lung irritation, skin rash, vomiting, dizziness, and even death. .
Contaminants are more likely to cause chronic health effects. These are the effects that occur long after repeated exposure to the small amounts of a chemical. Chronic health effects include cancer, liver, and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, damage to the immune system, and birth defects.
There are four main groups of contaminants. These contaminants are microbial pathogens, organics, inorganics, and radioactive elements. Microbial pathogens are disease-producing microorganisms, which include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The get into drinking water when the water source is contaminated by sewage and animal wate, or when well are improperly sealed and constructed. These pathogens can cause gastroenteritis, salmonella infection, dysentery, shigellosis, hepatitis, and giardiasis. Organics are potentially toxic chemicals and metals in the water. The main organic contaminant for industrial waste is volatile organic chemicals (VOC's). VOC's include solvents, degreasers, adhesives, gasoline additives, and fuels additives. Possible health effects include cancer, central nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage, reproductive disorders, and birth defects. Inorganics include toxic metals like arsenic, barium, chromium, lead, mercury, and silver. These metals can get into the water from natural sources, industrial processes, and materials used in your plumbing system. .
Specific Industrial Examples.
The first example of industrial contamination in the water supply is MTBE. Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether is a chemical manufactured and blended into gasoline by refineries.