The short answer is yes. Pesticides are widely used in modern agriculture to increase crop yields and directly ingesting these chemicals is harmful to human health. In this article, we will take a closer look at what pesticides are, how they get into our water supplies, and what you can do about this problem.
What are Pesticides?
When we talk about pesticides and herbicides, we are referring to commercially produced chemical products that are designed to deter or kill pests that feed on plants. Some of the older and more dangerous pesticides, such as DDT, have been banned for a long time after links to cancer and other harmful effects were discovered. But, at this time, there are more than 1,000 pesticides and herbicides in daily use around the world. Each of these products has its own unique properties and potential for harm to human and animal health.
How Do Pesticides Enter Our Water Supply?
Pesticides are sprayed onto crops to increase the yields by deterring or killing a wide variety of pests. They are effective, but the downside is that these chemicals are not absorbed by the plants and repeated sprayings will be required. The pesticides will seep into the soil right down the groundwater level which contaminates the aquifers.
It’s estimated that 95% of people living in rural areas are supplied with drinking water from groundwater sources. This is why pesticide contamination tends to be higher in areas where more agricultural activity takes place. But, homes that receive public water in suburban or even areas are still at risk. The pesticides tend to spread in rainfall run off, leaching, and even in strong winds.
What are the Dangers?
Early chemical pesticides contained harmful compounds, such as arsenic, mercury and even lead that are extremely dangerous and not very soluble. Thankfully, these have been banned for decades, but they were replaced by synthetic organic compounds which were supposed to be safer options. These chemicals accumulate in soil and the food chain and the adverse health effects prompted a search for something better.
A group of new pesticides known as carbamates which are highly soluble in water was adopted as a suitable replacement. Although these pesticides are less toxic, they seem to appear more frequently in our drinking water and long-term study is underway. Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of health issues, including endocrine system disruption, eye and skin irritation, nausea, chemical burns and they can be carcinogenic.
How Can I Remove Pesticides from My Drinking Water?
Because of the potential threat that pesticides and herbicides pose to their drinking water, many people are installing water treatment systems in their homes. These chemicals are not removed at a water treatment plant and private well water users are solely responsible for the quality of their drinking water.
So, it makes sense to add a water filtration system as a final line of defense. The two most effective systems are Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). These can remove pesticide chemicals and a wide variety of other contaminants too.
If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, contact your local water treatment specialist.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.