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Healthy Homes: Drinking Water

Purdue Extension > Extension Disaster Education Network > Healthy Homes: Drinking Water

Healthy Homes: Drinking Water

Woman drinking water

Every day, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of water! We depend on water to clean, cook, fix baby food and formual, and bathe. If you are like most people, you trust that your water is safe. This is mostly true. Public drinking water in the U.S. is safe for the most healthy people. If you have a well or other private water supply, it is your responsibility to keep the drinking water safe. Whether your water comes from a public or private source, take steps to make sure your water is safe for consumption.

There are times when your home water supply may not be safe. Using unsafe water to drink or prepare food can make you sick. Children may have more problems than adults because:

What May be in Drinking Water that is Not Safe?

Bacteria and viruses can cause diseases. Drinking water with these germs may cause upset stomachs, diarrhea, or more serious illnesses. It can be worse for children, pregnant women, and sick or older people. Just one drink of water with these germs can make you sick.

Nitrate gets in water from animal and human waste, and from fertilizer. Too much nitrate in your drinking water can cause blue baby syndrome in babies under six months old. Babies with this problem often have blue or purple-colored faces because they do not get enough oxygen in their blood. They need to see a doctor right away. Some experts believe nitrate may also result in birth defects and miscarriages. Baby food or formula made with your drinking water needs to be safe.

Lead and copper are metals that can get into water from your pipes. Too much lead can cause children to have learning and behavior problems, and other illnesses. Babies who get too much copper can have colic and spit up their formula more than normal. Older children and adults may get upset stomachs or diarrhea from copper.

Other harmful chemicals cna get into drinking water. Pesticides may get into the water supply by washing off lawns and fields or leaking from storage containers. Gas or oil can seep into the ground and contaminate drinking water. Even minute amounds of some chemicals can cause problems, such as damage to kidneys, liver, or other organs. Some cause cancer and others can cause problems for pregnant women.

Resources

Drinking Water Quality Teacher's Guide (Word)

Drinking Water Quality (PowerPoint: 202 KB)

Drinking Water Quality Pre-Test (Word: 72 KB)

Drinking Water Quality Post-Test (Word: 73 KB)