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PROTECTING YOUR DRINKING WATER

Most people never think about it, but safe drinking water is one of our most valuable resources. In the United States, the average person drinks about a half a gallon of water per day - that's over 180 gallons per year! The health of you and your family depends on clean, safe drinking water. Even though every effort is made by public drinking water system to provide high quality water, there are some instances when drinking water may become contaminated.

Drinking water can become contaminated at the water source (lakes, rivers, groundwater) or from the pipes that bring the water to your home. Two of the most harmful contaminants in water sources are bacteria and nitrates. Disease-causing bacteria live in water that is polluted with human and animal waste, or sewage. High levels of bacteria can cause serious intestinal problems and diseases such as cholera and hepatitis. Nitrate contamination is most common in farming regions where melted snow and rainwater carry nitrate-rich fertilizers into drinking water sources. High nitrate levels can reduce the amount of oxygen in blood cells and cause a blood disorders in elderly people and young children. In the event of high levels of bacteria and nitrate, your public water system is required to issue a warning explaining the problem and what precautions should be taken.

Another harmful contaminate in drinking water is lead. Lead gets into drinking water when old pipes in the plumbing of a building wear down or corrode or when lead solder is used to connect pipes. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious injury to the brain, kidneys and nervous system. Small children and pregnant women are at greatest risk from lead poisoning.

Here are some suggestions to help ensure that your drinking water is as safe as it can be:

If you have questions about your water supply or testing for contaminants, call the U.S. EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Written by: PTA Health and Welfare


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