Biological and Chemical Aspects of Drinking Water

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Most people use to think and still think that underground water is pure and safe to drink. The municipal system is responsible to distribute drinking water; has many examples of sewage water mixing in it giving rise to many diseases.

Water is life but chemicals in it aren’t

No one can deny this statement. However, one has to keep in mind that same water can take your life away. Yes! This is possible and it’s very common. There are two major things we have to worry when it comes to drinking water. Firstly, water borne diseases and secondly, salt levels. Since most of the people are generally well aware of the infectious diseases related to water, this article will delineate the fact that salt and chemical levels are important too when it comes to health and safe drinking.

Infectious Diseases

Firstly, infectious disease related to water. These diseases range from mild diarrhea to diseases as severe as hepatitis A, which can lead to acute hepatic failure in some of the cases. The list is long and beyond the scope of this article. However what we need to know is that a lot of morbidity and mortality can be prevented by drinking and using clean hygienic water. Understanding the ways how these diseases spread in both endemic and epidemic scenario is very important. As assumed generally in the rural areas that drinking clean water is enough to get away with these deadly murderers, is contradictory to medical knowledge available in the world of Twenty Twelve. Taking a shower in a spring or swimming in a pool can lead to a serious life threatening diseases such as encephalopathy which is however much more common in Africa. There are hundreds of diseases that lead to skin problems via contact with the specific germs in the water. Furthermore, one important aspect is water droplet infection. This type of infection comes from water contamination leading to severe life threatening septicemia with a bacterium called Pseudomonas which is very common in hospitals. Furthermore, if your air conditioning or drinking water storage machines having electric filters are also major sources of infection spread e.g. atypical pneumonia or legionnaire disease outbreaks.

Chemicals in Water

Chemicals and salts in the drinking water, could be havoc to the health. Heavy metal chemicals like lead and mercury can lead to myriad of health problems. These heavy metals are present in old lead based pipes and color pigments etcetera. We have tasted salty and river water both of whom isn’t that different for common people. However, increased amounts of salts can lead to hypertension and kidney stones. Calcium and Oxalate ions cause 80% of the kidney (renal) stones. Our kidneys are unable to deal with salts when they exceed a certain level in the drinking water or diet. These salts when ingested in large quantities, precipitate to form kidney stones. Next question comes in mind that what do these kidney stones cause? The pain and misery associated with them is beyond depiction. The pain is considered as one of the worst pain of one’s life and it can lead to urinary tract infections, and chronic kidney diseases which may end up a person on dialysis machine. Although there is not much published data on this aspect to support this debate, however in future, we will be able to find researches done in this aspect.

Solution

How to deal with this grave problem? Get your local water supply checked by a laboratory and analyze the quality of chemical proportions in it. If you are drinking water from an underground source. This will avoid one part of the problem. Secondly, if you find water fit for usage, always boil it. Its mandatory for good health. Some people argue that taste changes after boiling and its too much a hassle. The point is, how much you give importance to your health and it’s risky to drink water directly. Drinking water in the form of bottled water can be good, but then there are three major issues. Availability in the rural areas, affordability in this ever growing inflation and then last but not least, credibility of these bottled water’s sources; if they get it from stream, underground or simple tap water. Never forget to check the filters of your air conditioners and water filters. Get them clean in a timely manner. All this sounds a hassle but it’s worth the effort, because water is life!

Author: Anis Rehman, MD is a physician, editor, researcher and healthcare activist and holds interests in medical research and healthcare issues. He is the associate chief editor at Journal of Pakistan Medical Students

  • Sonia

    Nicely laid out. An eye-opener.

  • Burhan Ahmed

    Anis you did a good job boy !

  • I have long felt that the underground water is safe to drink . The value for your comment . From now on, diarrhea, arsenic, hepatitis A and various types of water-borne diseases can be prevented from।