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      How Safe is Your Drinking Water?  >  Contaminants Resulting from Biological Matter in Water  >  Human and Animal Feces

Contaminants Resulting from Biological Matter in Water - Human and Animal Feces

Though there are multiple ways that pathogens and harmful microorganisms enter the water supply, the principal means of entry is through water contamination by human sewage and/or animal feces (Lingireddy, 2002). These types of contamination largely affect surface water areas like rivers, lakes, and streams from which drinking water is taken.

Though most of the diseases caused by drinking water containing fecal material are gastrointestinal, such water can cause more serious and life threatening diseases like hepatitis (A, B, and C) and Legionnaire’s disease. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, characterized by jaundice, fever, and abdominal pain. Acute cases of hepatitis, especially hepatitis C can be fatal. Legionnaire’s disease is an infectious, sometimes fatal, disease that is characterized by high fever, incessant cough, lung congestion, and subsequent pneumonia. The disease can permanently damage such vital, internal organs as the heart and lungs. Ingestion of drinking water contaminated by human or animal feces can also result in higher rates of spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. The effects of pathogen-contaminated drinking water are especially detrimental to cancer patients, as well.

Human and animal feces enter water systems primarily through breakdowns in sewage and improper treatment of surface water sources. Human and animal fecal matter affects surface water almost exclusively, but as surface water bleeds into groundwater through stream and riverbeds, the groundwater can become contaminated, as well. Water treatment facilities can certainly lower the presence of human and animal feces in drinking water, but they cannot remove it entirely. Current treatment methods are aimed at protecting surface water sources from contamination before the water enters a treatment plant.

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How Safe is Your Drinking Water?
Introduction - The Value of Drinking Water
Groundwater and Surface Water
Herbicides and Insecticides - History & Occurrence
Herbicides and Insecticides - Specific Chemicals and Health Effects
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
Chlorine Byproducts
Fluoride - Recent Discoveries
Fluoride - Adverse Health Effects
Mercury and Arsenic
Bacteria and Viruses
Human and Animal Feces
Conclusion - The Importance of Drinking Filtered Water
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