Natural Organic Water Contaminants
There are many organic water contaminants that occur naturally in our drinking water. Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses live in the air, soil, and water all around us, and our bodies are mostly successful at protecting us from the harmful effects of these contaminants. When we do experience mild symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, and gastrointestinal discomfort from organic water contaminants, we usually write it off as a mild flu and we feel better after a day or two.
However, occasionally these contaminants can cause severe symptoms and even death. The World Health Organization estimates that between five and ten million people, mostly children, die each year from waterborne diseases. This article will outline the most common naturally occurring organic water contaminants and their effects on our bodies.
Cholera is caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium and causes diarrhea, dehydration, and death if left untreated.
Typhoid is caused by the Salmonella typhii bacterium and causes fever, severe headaches, diarrhea, and death if not treated early on.
Shigellosis, caused by Shigella dysenteriae, causes fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, cramps, arthritis, and occasionally death.
E. coli 0157:H7 is an especially nasty strain of coli form bacteria that can cause vomiting, cramps, a variety of infections, and sometimes death.
Hepatitis A causes nausea, vomiting, impaired liver function, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.
Polio is caused by three different polioviruses and causes headache, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, paralysis as it attacks nerve and muscle cells.
Norwalk Virus causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and other intestinal discomfort but the symptoms are generally mild and last only a few days.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea, especially in children, and other symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Death is rare and only occurs if the severe diarrhea is untreated.
Cryptosporidium causes a wide variety of intestinal distress, including diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, fever, and dehydration. This protozoan has been responsible for the deaths of people with compromised immune systems.
Giardia is caused by Giardia lamblia and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Deaths from giardiasis are rare and usually result from chronic infections.
Naegleria fowleri, in the initial stages of infection causes headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck. It can cause meningoencephalitis which causes inflammation of brain tissue and death from the destruction of brain tissue.
The symptoms from ingesting organic water contaminants (nausea, headache, vomiting, and cramps) are consistent with what we commonly associate with influenza, and every one of us is affected from time to time. These contaminants occur in drinking water everywhere from public water systems to private wells, and occasional outbreaks make headlines in newspapers all over the world.
The best way to prevent these pathogens from getting into our bodies is by using a variety of commercially available water filters that range from simple water pitcher filters to whole house filtering systems. In fact, the water filtration industry is booming as more and more of us seek our own solutions for protecting ourselves and our families from waterborne illnesses.