Water Quality – Effects on Mental Health

Water Quality - Effects on Mental Health

Nothing seems to quench the thirst like a cool glass of water, but many people take this humble resource for granted. Most assume that turning on a faucet will bring water for drinking, cooking, or bathing. However, many of us have also experienced that feeling of missing easy access to water when a natural disaster strikes. Not having water brings anxiety and the willingness to wait in long lines to get whatever amount may be available through donations. Those times remind us of the value of water as a life-saving commodity.

Water: A Basic Resource With Big Impacts

The body is about two-thirds water, underscoring the need to consume adequate daily fluids. Water has many benefits, including ridding the body of toxins, regulating body temperature, cushioning the joints, and promoting healthy weight. Drinking adequate water also prevents dehydration, which can cause health problems. Water is vital for a healthy brain, making up around 95 percent of that organ. You need water for cognitive function: It takes oxygen to the brain. Water increases blood flow to the brain, improves memory, and helps with clear thinking.

When you look at a clear glass of plain water, you may see a healthy, calorie-free drink. Although your water may look clean, that’s not a guarantee that it’s safe to drink. Just because your water is clear does not mean it is free of harmful substances. Clean-looking water may contain impurities that can make you physically sick and also impact your mental health.

Contaminants in Water Can Affect Health

Research has shown that contaminated water can contain harmful substances, including pathogens like bacteria, metals like arsenic and lead, and chemicals in fertilizers and other compounds. Consuming contaminated water long-term can lead to serious health problems, including cancers and developmental delays. Poor water quality can also affect mental health.

Clean Drinking Water Is Important for Everyone

Everyone deserves access to clean drinking water. Generally, safe drinking water is readily available in the U.S. Whether individuals source their water from a well in a rural area, a municipal water supply, or from bottled water, potable or safe drinking water is plentiful. However, there are circumstances where drinking water gets exposed to contaminants. Sometimes, contamination occurs due to unavoidable events such as floods, mudslides, and other natural disasters.

Private water sources like wells or springs may be vulnerable to contamination from bacteria and chemical fertilizers. Water can become contaminated when someone accidentally releases chemicals or other substances into a natural water source, such as a river. Unfortunately, there may also be instances where contaminated water may result from intentional criminal activity.

How Heavy Metals Get into Drinking Water

Industrial operations may release airborne particles and water polluted with arsenic, lead, and other metals into rivers and streams. Pollution from industrial and agricultural processes comes from substances like:

  • Cadmium from battery-making.
  • Arsenic from treating wood products like electricity poles.
  • Mercury from coal combustion.

Heavy metals from natural sources like rock can also enter groundwater. Water contaminated with heavy metals can get into pipes and cause corrosion. Lead water pipes are also sources of contamination as they allow lead to leach into the water supply.

Is Water Quality Something We Have to Worry About in the U.S.?

There have been instances where individuals in the U.S. unknowingly consumed contaminated water. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. has some of the safest drinking water in the world. Many people in the U.S. get water from municipal water systems, and the responsible parties must follow Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for protecting water and keeping it safe from contamination. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 permits the EPA to protect drinking water by setting safety standards.

Those who source drinking water from private wells can contact the local health department for guidance on testing and treatment if test results indicate contamination.

Tap Water vs Glacier Water

Tap water from municipal sources goes through cleaning processes, including filtering to remove particles and disinfecting to kill harmful microorganisms. When you get water from your tap, it is supposed to be safe for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other tasks that require potable water.

Although glacial water and ice are popular and companies that sell the products promote them as healthy, it’s essential to make sure you consume sanitary water regardless of the source. While glacial water may have healthy minerals, like water from any origin, it can also become contaminated with illness-causing bacteria, parasites, and viruses. If you choose glacial water, get it from a reputable or safe source.

Whether your water comes from a tap, natural source, or a private well, if you suspect it’s contaminated, get help to correct the problem. If your water is cloudy, discolored, or has an off taste or odor, that is not always cause for concern. However, since you may not know what’s causing the issue, contact your water supplier or local health department and ask what you should do. Consuming water containing harmful chemicals like gasoline, bacteria, and metals like arsenic and lead can cause physical and mental health issues.

How Water Quality Can Affect Mental Health

Years of exposure to contaminated water not only affects individuals during childhood but can also lead to long-term mental health issues. Lead, a heavy metal, has a history of causing cognitive problems in children. Developmental delays impacting learning and behavior are common in children after years of exposure to lead. Research shows that children exposed to lead have a risk of developing mental health disorders, including depression and schizophrenia, during adulthood.

Water Scarcity and Mental Health

Clean, drinkable water is hard to get in many areas of the world. Drinking water, mental health, and physical well-being share a connection. Research suggests an association between inadequate drinking water and mental health. Water scarcity and the perception of unfairness related to water services can be stressors leading to anxiety and depression.

People who experience illnesses like tumors, blood disorders, kidney or liver damage, and reproductive health problems due to long-term exposure may suffer psychological distress. Also, since water is necessary for brain health, not having access can make it difficult to think clearly and handle daily responsibilities. It’s easy to understand that when there is poor water quality, mental health can be a concern, as people who don’t have access to drinkable water feel anxious and stressed.

Help is Available if You’re Struggling With Mental Health Concerns

If you’re worried about whether your water is safe to drink, your water supplier or local public health department can offer guidance. If you feel stressed or are struggling with your mental health, regardless the cause, the medical professionals at Restore Mental Health may be able to help. For more information, call us today at 844-721-2323.