How Poor Water and Air Quality Affect Our Health

The skyscrapers of Hong Kong's financial district

As humans, we need water and air to survive. It’s no surprise, then, that our world’s water supply and atmospheric conditions play a vital role in our health. This is why people all across the country are working together to make eco-friendly choices for a cleaner, healthier future. It may seem like an uphill battle, but the alternative is much worse. 

Poor air quality has been linked to acute and chronic respiratory conditions. Similarly, contaminated water has been known for spreading infectious and life-threatening diseases such as Typhoid, Cholera, Paratyphoid Fever, Dysentery, Malaria, and many others. 

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, approximately 40% of Americans reside in areas with unhealthy levels of smog and other kinds of pollution, so it’s no wonder why families are in a constant state of worry. Let’s take a closer look at how exactly poor air and water quality can pose a threat to our overall health. 

Air Pollution and Its Detrimental Effects

As the world becomes warmer and more populated, engines and factories tend to pump out more unhealthy emissions, making the air we breathe dangerously dirty. According to the World Health Organization, approximately one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease are caused by air pollution. The factors that lead to air pollution in our atmosphere are the microscopic substances that are able to overcome our body’s immune defenses, ultimately penetrating deep into our respiratory and circulatory systems. 

Indoor Quality: Just As Bad As the Outdoors 

Did you know everyday household tools can affect indoor air quality? Indoor air pollution is most often caused by the following:

  • Cleaning chemicals and detergents
  • Gases such as carbon monoxide or radon
  • Building materials such as asbestos or lead
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Tobacco smoke 

According to Medical News Today, particle pollutants cause the most damage under factors of poor air quality. These particle pollutants consist of the following:

  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Ozone 

Exposure to these substances and pollutants can pose both short and long-term effects on a person’s respiratory tract, lung function, and much more. 

Contaminated Water: Affecting Our World

To put it bluntly, contaminated water can be life-threatening. According to a study published by The Lancet, polluted water was the cause of 1.8 million deaths in 2015 alone. Besides life-threatening situations, contaminated water can cause very serious illnesses. 

Waterborne pathogens, in the form of disease-inducing bacteria and viruses from human and animal waste, are a major cause of illness from contaminated drinking water. Some of the most common diseases spread by unsafe cleaning and drinking water are cholera, giardia, and typhoid. Even in the wealthiest of nations, accidental or illegal releases from sewage treatment facilities, as well as runoff from farms and urban areas, contribute to harmful pathogens to waterways. 

Some other main sources of pollution consist of the following:

  • Urbanization
  • The rising use of synthetic organic substances
  • Oil spills
  • Acid rain caused by the burning and emitting of fossil fuels
  • Human littering in rivers, oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water. 

Our groundwater and freshwater are our main sources of water. Even this supply of water can never guarantee safe and reliable consumption. Almost everything that is a byproduct of our civilization is polluting our drinking water. The U.S. government, through various acts and water resource policies, has sought to regulate the discharges of pollutants to minimize pollution, contaminations, sickness, disease, and deadly instances. 

The Direct Effects on Our Health 

Below are some water-borne diseases and how they pose a threat to our health. 

  • Pesticides

These chemicals are well-known and used regularly in farms all across the nation. Pesticides, however, can damage the nervous system and cause cancer.

  • Nitrates

These chemicals are especially dangerous to infants who consume formula as nitrates can restrict the amount of oxygen that travels to the brain and cause “blue baby” syndrome. If contaminated water is used for the baby formula or for baby food, then the baby may be at risk. 

  • Lead

This chemical can accumulate and damage the central nervous system.

  • Arsenic

Arsenic can cause liver damage, skin cancer, and vascular diseases. 

  • Fluorides 

If consumed in excessive amounts, teeth can become yellow over time and cause damage to the spinal cord. 

CNA Adult Primary Care and Pediatrics: Here to Help You Battle Harmful Conditions 

Our healthcare professionals are aware of the pollutants that play a negative role in our health. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about how you can avoid pollutants and damages from affecting your health.

Scroll to Top