Water Contaminants Can Impact Child Health. Here’s How To Remove Them
(StatePoint) Clean, safe drinking water is essential for human health, especially for children, who are particularly vulnerable to certain contaminants. Local, state and federal policy has had some success in helping clean up drinking water supplies, but there are new reports of emerging contaminants linked to child development. Here’s what to know about some of the most common water contaminants linked to child health, along with information about how to filter them:
- PFAS: According to Environmental Working Group scientists, the presence of Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in American drinking water is much wider spread than previously thought. Contamination of drinking water or ground water has been detected at almost 1,400 sites in 49 states. This large class of chemicals — which includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — is added to a range of products and packaging. They are collectively referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily and can last thousands of years. They can also build up in the human body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS. A new medical research study recently reported PFAS is altering hormonal and metabolic pathways needed for child growth and development.
- Lead: The effects of lead contamination in water have become more well known since the crisis in Flint, Mich. became widely reported on in 2016. However, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are between 6 to 10 million lead service lines still use in the country. When pipes that contain lead corrode, lead can enter drinking water. Harmful to everyone, even minimal exposure can have a significant impact on children, and has been linked to nervous system damage, impaired hearing, learning disabilities and impaired blood cell function..
- Microplastics: Microplastics are fragments of plastic pollution, which are harmful to water ecosystems and unhealthy to consume. Microplastics are found in both tap and bottled water and in a 2022 study, were noted to be found in human blood. While the health effects of microplastics are still largely unknown, they are emerging as a common drinking water contaminant to be aware of.
To learn about the contaminants found in your drinking water, you can access the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database. No matter what you learn, it’s a good idea to filter your water.
Many home water filters only filter certain contaminants. It’s important to look for a water filter that removes chemicals including PFAS, heavy metals including lead, and that provides broader protection against emerging contaminants such as microplastics. One option is the pitcher filters and dispenser filters offered by LifeStraw, which remove not only lead, PFAS and microplastics, but also bacteria, parasites and a variety of emerging contaminants, including pharmaceuticals.
When it comes to child health, PFAS and lead contamination in drinking water is a concerning problem at the local and national level. Fortunately, household solutions exist to make water safer for individuals and families.