How Heavy Metals Get In Your Drinking Water
Metallica heavy metal – great. Toxic heavy metal in your drinking water – not great. Here’s how heavy metals like mercury and arsenic get in your water and how to protect your family.
Why are heavy metals in the water supply?
More urbanization and industrialization inevitably results in increased strains on the drinking water supply, including the presence of stuff we don’t want anywhere near our kids.
Heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and lead enter the water supply through:
- Emissions from coal plants.
- Emissions from waste incinerators.
- Processing from mining and other resource industries.
- Industrial runoff.
- Old pipes and paint.
Some metals occur naturally in unsafe levels as well, so even if you live far from the city, your family might still be at risk.
At risk for what?
What are the risks associated with consuming heavy metals?
Kids are more susceptible to the negative effects of heavy metals than adults. Young immune systems are still developing and don’t have the horsepower to repair damage as well as an adult immune system. Childhood exposure to some metals, like mercury or arsenic, can result in:
- Learning impairments.
- Memory difficulties.
- Damage to the nervous system.
- Other irreversible brain damage.
How much mercury is too much?
There is probably no safe level for mercury consumption, but nobody knows for sure. What we do know for certain is high exposure to mercury results in brain damage and potential death.
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The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says even at levels below the somewhat arbitrary limit of fifty micrograms per gram, people experience loss of colour vision, loss of contrast sensitivity and peripheral vision.
Kids exposed to even low levels of mercury as babies are more likely to suffer from ADHD.
Bacteria in our bodies actually amplifies the negative potency of any mercury we ingest, so even minor exposure to mercury is extremely hazardous.
Arsenic – it even sounds dangerous.
Arsenic is one of the most damaging chemicals in the global water supply. It’s everywhere in nature, and even more present were mining and other industrial activities happen.
Most municipal water supplies say arsenic is safe at at 10 parts per billion. However, evidence shows even at 10 parts per billion, arsenic makes it difficult for pregnant and nursing mice to produce the fats necessary to nourish their children. Arsenic at a concentration of 10 parts per billion may also start cancer formation in prostate cells (and if you drink that arsenic laced water from a plastic bottle, with chemicals that mimic estrogen, you’re even more likely to develop cancer cells).
With the possibility inadequate water safety standards, you need to take whatever steps you can to protect yourself, your family and your workplace, especially if you live anywhere near a mining or similar operation.
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