MAJOR WATER POLLUTANTS
Chlorine -- Trihalomethanes (THM's) are formed when chlorine, used to disinfect water supplies, interacts with natural organic materials (e.g. by-products of decayed vegetation, algae, etc.). This creates toxic organic chemicals such as chloroform, and Bromodichloromethane. A further word about chlorine: Scientists at Colombia University found that women who drank chlorinated water ran a 44% greater risk of dying of cancer of the gastrointestinal or urinary tract than did women who drank non-chlorinated water! Chlorinated water has also been linked to high blood pressure and anemia. Anemia is caused by the deleterious effect of chlorine on red blood cells.
Asbestos -- Asbestos exists as microscopic suspended mineral fibers in water. Its primary source is asbestos-cement pipe which was commonly used after World War II for city water supplies. It has been estimated that some 200,000 miles of this pipe is presently in use to transport our drinking water. Because these pipes are wearing, the deadly substance of asbestos is showing up with increasing frequency in drinking water. It has been linked with gastrointestinal cancer.
Toxic Metals or Heavy Metals -- Among the greatest threats to health are the presence of high levels of toxic metals in drinking water - Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, and Silver. Maximum limits for each are established by the EPA Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Other metals such as Chromium and Selenium, while essential trace elements in our diets, have limits imposed upon them when in water because the form in which they exist may pose a health hazard. Toxic metals are associated with nerve damage, birth defects, mental retardation, certain cancers, and increased susceptibility to disease.
Radioactivity -- Even though trace amounts of radioactive elements can be found in almost all drinking water, levels that pose serious health hazards are fairly rare--for now. Radioactive wastes leach from mining operations...