August is National Water Quality Month in the United States, but what exactly does that mean? Well, first we need to determine why water is so important. Easy, we need it to survive. Fruits and vegetables, wildlife, trees (where we get oxygen from), and pretty much every living thing relies on water for its sustainability. Second, we need to determine why we need water quality standards instead of just plain old water. Simple, they help identity water quality problems such as runoffs from abandoned chemicals from agricultural areas. Water pollution has been avoided throughout the United States by having water quality standards in place to manage wastewater from cities, farms, and industrial sites.
Now that we understand why water is so important and why we have water quality standards in the United States, we can move on to some important questions you may have:
How would I know is my water is polluted?
Since 40 percent of the nation’s waterways suffer water quality problems, this is a great question. The Environmental Protection Agency equips you with a watershed database so that you can locate which watershed you live in to learn about how polluted your water is and what you can do to avoid any water-born illnesses and what actions you can take to protect your regional water quality. You can find the watershed database at http://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/locate/index.cfm. Simply type in your 5 digit zip code in the search box and press submit.
What kind of contaminants can be in water that is harmful to me and what do they cause?
Cryptosporidium, Giadia lamblia, viruses – Causes gastrointestinal illness
Legionella – Causes Legionnaire’s disease (a type of pneumonia)
Turbidity – Too much is associated with higher levels of disease causing microorganisms (viruses, parasites, bacteria, etc.)
Bromate – Increased risk of cancer
Chlorite – Causes anemia and nervous system effects in infants and young children
Many more problems can be caused by pollutants in water. To see an entire list, please visit http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/.
What can I do to get involved in keeping myself and others safe against water pollutants?
The best way to get involved is to raise awareness about potential threats to your local rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, fish and shellfish, and most important, drinking water. There have been several programs in place so that you can be proactive in protection against water pollution that includes:
And so many more ways to help reduce and even eliminate the harmfulness of these water pollutants. You can find more ways to be proactive at http://water.epa.gov/action/.
How can I prevent water pollution in my home?
You can do this in several ways:
There are multiple ways to avert water pollution in your home and in your community. To see the entire list of things you can do to prevent water pollution in your home and to learn more about National Water Quality Month please visit http://www.goodspeaks.org/event/august-is-national-water-quality-month.