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Types of Water Contamination After a Flood

Water can become unsafe for drinking, cooking, and cleaning during and after the occurrence of floods. Microorganisms like bacteria, heating oil, sewage, and agricultural or industrial wastes, among others, can contaminate the water causing serious illness. People with private drinking wells should, therefore, assume their water is unsafe for use when floods occur.


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This means you will not use it until a water test is done to confirm the water is safe for consumption. Water contaminants can be divided into different categories, depending on the substance. Before looking at the types of water contamination, let’s define what water contaminants are.

What Are Water Contaminants?                     

Basically, anything other than water molecules is referred to as a water contaminant. The Safe Drinking Water Act defines contaminants as anything physical, radiological, chemical, or biological in water. Some water contaminants are only harmful at a certain level in the water, while others are harmless. At times, contaminants in water don’t necessarily mean the water will pose a health risk.

According to the definition above, there are only a few contaminants in the universe listed in the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). The CCL is the first examination of unregulated water contaminants that may require further investigation of potential health impact and the capacity at which they’re found in the water.

Water Contamination After Floods

Generally, floodwater can find its way to your private drinking well. It usually carries stew toxins that, when mixed with your drinking water, it becomes unfit for consumption. Here are various types of water contamination after a flood:

Sewage Bacteria                 

During and after flooding, water can get contaminated with floodwaters containing sewage with E-Coli bacteria, which causes gastrointestinal illness. Moreover, it contains other bacteria pathogens like Staphylococcus and Streptococcus that cause serious skin diseases.

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Apart from this, the Shigella bacteria found in sewage water can cause gastrointestinal illness in the form of diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and dehydration. Most of these bacteria diseases can resolve on their own without treatment but would require antibiotics.

Toxic Chemicals and Gases

Water fit for consumption can get contaminated by chemicals and gases. When a storm hits an urban area, there are potential risks of toxic gases entering the water like methane, sulfur dioxide, and benzene, among other gases. When you drink and clean with contaminated water with chemicals and gases, over time, it can cause cancer. In other cases, they cause brain, kidney, and blood problems.

Agricultural and Industrial Waste

During floods, soils from farmlands are usually washed off, and their sediments can find their way into your drinking water. The associated waste, including manure and pesticides, has serious implications for water quality. Just like other contaminants, agricultural and industrial wastes can cause life-threatening health issues.

Bottom Line!

Water is essential for life; therefore, you must ensure it’s safe for drinking as contaminated water can cause life-threatening health problems. Therefore, during and after a flood, people with private drinking wells should always assume their water is contaminated with the aforementioned contaminants until a test is done.

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