No Fracking Way: What’s Really in the Water You Drink?

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Water is essential as it is deadly. Water keeps us alive and can tear our lives apart in a tsunami-fueled instant. Few people know, however, how important a role our everyday drinking water plays in our health and wellness. Clean water is so important, that an estimated 10 percent of the global disease burden would be amended with safe drinking water, and unsafe water kills 200 children every hour.

Not Just a Third World Problem

It’s easy to take an out of sight, out of mind approach to water-spawned diseases like cholera and malaria, which generally don’t ravage much of the U.S. population. However, water-borne threats are much more common in the U.S. than you may think. Chemicals like fluoride are pumped into our water, which is known to foster osteoporosis and cause genetic damage. Additionally, everything from dog droppings to pesticides are slowly seeping into our groundwater, and we’ve only begun to uncover the tip of the iceberg of the potential damage it can do.

Superfund Disaster Leaks Into Drinking Water

In North New Jersey, the municipal water supply in the Borrough, specifically the Westmoreland Well Field has proven to be a devastating example of what can go wrong with a public water supply. In this instant, the nearby federal Superfund site leaked into the ground and caused industrial solvents and chemicals such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and chloroform in or near three of Fair Lawn’s water-supply wells. These chemical contaminates cause lung, kidney, liver and nervous system damage.

There are so many Superfund sites in the U.S. that over half of the population lives within 10 miles of one. The EPA works tirelessly with third-party remediation companies like Sevenson Environmental to help clean up dangerous toxic sites, but funds needed to keep us and our water supply optimally safe are low. That’s why awareness and education are integral pieces in helping curb water pollution problems.

How Fracking Affects You

In addition to Superfund sites that aren’t properly contained, a somewhat common practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking threatens the safety of our drinking water. Fracking is an extremely water-intensive process that is used to loosen the rocks surrounding a gas or oil well. Fracking uses water, sand, chemicals and immense force to break up the rocks. Unfortunately, said chemicals are known to cause cancer, and when they are injected deep into the annals of our earth they can easily seep into wells and water supplies, leaving us none the wiser.

That’s not the worst of it. In addition to polluting the ground water around fracking sites, the process itself calls for vast areas of land to be leveled and heavy machinery and toxic chemicals to be brought into the community, posing pollution risks and the devaluation of land. Fracking also generates substantial amounts of waste and has turned entire communities into sacrifice zones. No matter which side of the political spectrum you identify with, according to calculations, the world will run out of drinkable, unpolluted water mid-century.

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