Opinion: The issue with dirty water

A lot of us take clean water for granted because, at the turn of a knob, clean running water comes out of the faucet, ready to drink.

However, water isn’t readily available for most of the world, and the water that is available is rarely clean or safe to consume.

It’s easy to neglect issues when they’re in places overseas and don’t affect us directly. The issues seem so distant, but clean water is still hard to access in many cities in the U.S.

The most well known example of this is the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The crisis in Flint started when the city decided to change the water pipelines to reduce the cost of delivering water from Lake Huron to the homes of those living in Flint.

However, good intentions turned wrong when the pipelines were found to contain high levels of lead and fecal coliform bacteria. Citizens were initially told to boil water in order to kill any harmful bacteria.

However, it was later discovered that boiling the water led to increases in the lead content. Many water sources contained up to 397 parts per billion of lead (the Environmental Protection Agency suggests anything over 15 ppb could be considered toxic).

Soon after learning this, citizens were encouraged to stop using city tap water and resort to bottled water.

Flint has been without clean water and in a state of emergency for nearly three years.

Lead has damaging health effects on people, especially young children, babies and pregnant women.

In children, studies have found that increased levels of lead in the body can lead to damage of learning disabilities due to damage of the central nervous system. It also slows the growth rate of young children and is known to cause anemia in children.

Because children are smaller in stature and are not fully developed, the effects of lead poisoning on their body is much more detrimental than those of adults. If a pregnant woman’s body contains increased levels of lead, it can lead to reduced growth rate of the fetus or premature birth.

In adults, increased levels of lead causes issues from increased blood pressure to decreased kidney function and infertility.

Water is the building block of life; without clean water, our health and well-being are at risk.

Had people been aware of this issue early on, the effects would have been much less severe, and it could have been prevented.

We must teach people the importance of clean water. Clean water shouldn’t be a luxury item; it is essential to life. We have to gather together and stand up for the people who are going without something so critically basic.

Harlee Rush is a guest columnist, contact them at [email protected].

Christian Ward is a guest columnist, contact him at [email protected].