How can water get contaminated? Many people have this question on their minds lately, with the news regarding the contamination at Camp Lejeune and its long-term effects on Marines and their family members.
Water gets contaminated in several ways, often when outside sources deliver chemicals or germs directly into a water source. Learn more about the contamination process with our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC. Call us or fill out our online contact form for additional information.
How does Water Become Contaminated?
Chemistry tells us that water contains hydrogen and oxygen atoms. However, groundwater frequently contains other substances as well. Water naturally absorbs substances in the atmosphere, and once it falls to earth, it continues to absorb minerals and gases.
In many cases, this absorption poses no hazards to humans who drink the water. However, water just as easily absorbs dangerous contaminants and chemicals left in the environment. If these hazards can dissolve, they are easily swept into the water.
Once in water, many contaminants are colorless, tasteless, and have no smell. Therefore, contaminated water poses a serious health risk for people around the country.
What Are the Top 8 Causes of Water Contamination?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks information about contaminated water. According to the CDC, the top sources of chemicals and germs in drinking water include:
- Pesticides and fertilizers used on farmland
- Large industrial animal farms
- Manufacturing businesses
- Overflows from sewers
- Storm water
- Rocks or soil that contain dangerous chemicals
- Cracked or damaged water pipes
All of these sources of contamination can spoil drinking water, making it unsafe for human consumption without proper treatment.
What Caused Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune?
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), several dangerous chemicals contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune for several decades. The water on and around base contained:
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
Other byproducts of these chemicals also appeared in the water. The contamination at Camp Lejeune came from a dry-cleaning facility located close to the base.
For several decades, the dry cleaners released these chemicals into drinking water, where it impacted the health of service members, their families, and civilians.
What Can Drinking Contaminated Water Do to You?
Many individuals become seriously ill after consuming contaminated drinking water. The health effects of contaminated water vary based on the source of the contamination. For example, some individuals are exposed to:
Bacteria and viruses often live in contaminated water. They end up causing diseases as they spread through the water source. Many of these illnesses result in symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
More serious infections can lead to kidney failure and some prove fatal. Examples of bacteria and viruses found in contaminated water include:
- E. coli
The above list only contains examples of potential toxins. Water treatment plants remove many of these contaminants from the water. However, drinking water directly from a stream, lake, or another untreated water source could result in an infection.
In many cases, dangerous chemicals end up contaminating drinking water. The health effects of chemical exposure vary based on the type of chemical in the water. Many individuals experience health issues like organ damage, skin discoloration, or the development of cancer.
The water contamination at Camp Lejeune provides an example of the potential health hazards associated with this issue. Marines, their families, and civilian workers exposed to contaminated water on base have higher likelihoods of developing cancers like:
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Adult leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
The above list contains only examples of the cancers associated with water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
What Can You Do After Exposure to Contaminated Water?
If you or a family member experience exposure to contaminated water, it can have serious effects on your health. Many individuals develop serious illnesses due to exposure to dangerous pathogens or chemicals.
In some situations, individuals have a legal opportunity to file a claim against the person or organization that contaminated the water. For example, Marines and their families can file claims for the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.
Many individuals receive compensation to cover their medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Note that Camp Lejeune represents only one example of water contamination around the country. Allow a legal team to review your case if contaminated water made you ill.
Speak to a Lawyer About Water Contamination Claims
How can water get contaminated? Exposure to dangerous pathogens or chemicals quickly leads to water contamination, which results in serious health effects. Reach out to a law firm with experience and legal resources if contaminated water affected you or your family.
Our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, stands ready to address your legal concerns. Find out more by calling us or completing our online contact form.