Water pollution is becoming a growing concern in the United States. Almost half of the tap water in the country is polluted with ‘forever’ chemicals, reveals the US Geological Survey’s study. Now, that’s an alarming revelation. Many believe that the number of individuals exposed to contaminated water is much higher than found in the study.
Exposure to toxic chemicals has been linked with high cholesterol, thyroid disease, obesity, cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and hormone suppression. In the latest findings, health advisories revealed that chemicals are much more toxic to human health than they are thought to be.
Despite the advancements in the methods of pollution control, prevention, and treatment, industrial developments continue to pose a threat to water systems.
Over the past few decades, the US has witnessed several water contamination disasters. Each of these events emphasizes the importance of addressing the critical issue of water pollution.
In this article, we’ll shed light on the three most tragic water contamination disasters.
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The Flint crisis was a tragic public health disaster that garnered national headlines, which unfolded in 2014. The same year, city officials made a decision to switch its drinking water supply source from Detroit to the Flint River. The switch was basically planned as a cost-saving move.
Unfortunately, the river water wasn’t tested or treated properly. As a result, Flint’s drinking water was plagued with high levels of lead and other toxic substances. Flint residents complained about the foul taste and smell of the water. But officials disregarded their claims and maintained that the water was all right.
Soon after, researchers revealed that citywide lead levels had risen after sampling water from more than 200 households. This increased lead levels in water led to several health issues among Flint residents, especially children. Flint witnessed an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease between 2014 and 2015, killing nearly 12 residents.
Not surprisingly, a coalition of citizens and local groups sued the state officials and the city to secure safe drinking water. Of course, the efforts paid off, as the judge ordered the distribution of bottled water to residences that lacked a tap filter.
This infamous water pollution disaster highlighted the need for strict water quality testing and transparency in water management practices.
The Marine Corps Base of Camp Lejeune, located in North Carolina, was marred by one of the most serious water pollution incidents in history. For nearly 30 decades, the residents of Camp Lejeune were supplied with drinking water polluted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Authorities started investigating the polluted water supply in 1980. Results revealed that industrial solvents, such as perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), were found in the drinking water of Camp Lejeune.
Sources of the pollution included leaks from storage drums and tanks beneath the ground and on-base spills at industrial sites. Camp Lejeune contaminated water supply put military veterans personnel and their families at risk of several health issues.
Researchers have discovered a link between water contamination and several types of cancers, including breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. TorHoerman Law reports that many veterans developed life-altering conditions such as renal toxicity and multiple myeloma. Birth defects, miscarriage, and infertility in women were also the aftermath of exposure to contaminated water at Marine Base Corps Camp Lejeune.
Not surprisingly, this scandal led to numerous lawsuits, making it among the largest class-action litigation in history. While expected Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts vary from case to case, many believe it could be over $1 million.
This tragedy sparked debates over military facilities’ responsibilities to protect the health of those living and working at the camp.
A town located ten miles north of Boston became a topic of intense discussion in 1986. The high incidence of leukemia among children brought to light that their drinking water was foul.
Like Flint, residents of Massachusetts often complained about the bitter and pungent taste of the water. But officials declared it potable. Later, in 1979, state environmental authorities discovered barrels containing polyurethane dumped upstream along the river.
Numerous studies reveal that Woburn’s water was polluted due to local industrial plants. Industrial solvents like perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene were found in the river water. Both industrial solvents are regarded as potential human carcinogens that cause kidney, liver, and nervous system damage.
Since the revelation, several lawsuits have been filed against UniFirst, Beatrice Foods, and W.R. Grace. These lawsuits allege that these industrialists have polluted two municipal wells in East Woburn.
Water contamination remains a significant concern in the United States even today. The three incidents mentioned above caused significant damage to people, from life-long diseases like cancer and leukemia to death. As such, the need for responsible industrial practices, strict regulatory measures, and proactive environmental management have become more important than ever.
Addressing water pollution isn’t just the responsibility of the government. But industries and residents must take equal part when it comes to safeguarding the most precious resource of the nation. Only then will it be possible to create a sustainable future.