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Nov 27

Funny and Freaky Facts About What’s In Your Water

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeljscott/3094068273/ - Photo credit Michael ScottWater is not simply a substance we consume, it’s a complex structure that sustains and houses life on many levels. From the bacteria and algae that call it home, to the minerals and additives that help or harm us, water is the primary building block for human health and all life on earth.

 

Following are a few freaky, funny and fascinating facts about water.

Freaky – Pharmaceuticals

Hormones, antibiotics, and mood stabilizers have been found in many cities’ drinking water. The results on the ecosystems surrounding large cities are strange. In some areas, aquatic life forms are developing both sex organs due to the rising levels of estrogen caused by oral contraceptives. In the Gulf of Mexico, it seems that shrimp in particular are affected by the mood stabilizer component of the waters feeding into the gulf. The parts per million have been measured but no long-term studies have been done to determine the effects on human health.

Freaky – Fluoride

There is currently a hot debate over the safety of adding fluoride, an industrial chemical, to a population’s drinking water. While assumed safe and good for the teeth, fluoride has also been proven to cause negative symptoms including, ironically, fluorosis of the teeth, especially in children. There is a large movement against the chemical being used in drinking water and all forms of dental care products, calling the addition of any chemical to the water supply a compulsory mass medication, while city officials contend that it is safe and effective.

Funny – Coliform Bacteria

Coliform bacteria are an indicator of fecal matter in a water supply. Normally there is nothing to be alarmed about and some levels of coliform from animal droppings are to be expected. The tolerance for coliform bacteria is much lower in public water supplies and a little less strict for, say, a public beach. It is only when a public water supply shows indicators of E. Coli that the water becomes dangerous for humans and this usually signals a sewage leak of some kind.

Freaky – Chlorine

Chlorine is used as a water decontamination chemical in everything from swimming pools to public water supplies. Chlorine, on its own, is a deadly poisonous chemical and many groups debate its safety for human consumption. Chlorine’s effects and taste are two large reasons that people filter their water before drinking. It is believed by many people that chlorine is dangerous to consume in any quantity and is never safe for humans. The effects chlorinated water has on the microorganisms in soil may be an indicator of what it can do inside the human body. When chlorinated water is sprayed on lawns it kills a host of beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria. In lawns, the bacteria are so plentiful they quickly repopulate in the soil but it does leave one to wonder just what effects that same chlorine is having on the sensitive gut flora humans need for digestion.

Funny – Bizarre Properties

Thought science had figured it all out? Think again! Water still holds some mysteries for the scientific community. Inexplicably, hot water freezes faster than cold water. We still don’t know why but if you fill an ice cube tray with hot steaming water and another with cold water, the two trays will freeze at significantly different rates. The hot water will always freeze before the cold water. Go figure!

Freaky: Lead

Lead is rarely found in aquifers but is found to easily contaminate a home’s drinking water through old plumbing. Houses built before 1986 are at a higher risk for this form of contamination. Brass and chrome-plated faucets and fixtures can leech lead into your water as well. The dangerous effects of lead poisoning are well documented and especial harmful to young children. The EPA discusses lead contamination in greater detail here.

Funny – Algal Bloom

Algal blooms can happen in tap water from certain lakes and reservoirs. When the summer months heat the water, the heat mixed with certain fertilizers from farm runoff can create massive algal blooms in freshwater. The treated water is completely safe to drink but takes on the odor of dead fish and is very unpleasant to the nose.

Stephanie Monty is a freelance writer who works with Ward Water, a water purification company that operates out of the state of Maine. Ward Water specializes in Maine water contaminant removal using nano filtration systems and absorptive Media Resins.

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