How Undetected Toxic Pollutants Ailed a Community and What We Can Do to Ensure a Similar Situation Never Happens Again
Water is one of the single most important elements for survival.
Without it, most can’t live longer than 3-5 days. And, if you do manage to survive that long without water, you’re likely to face serious health consequences due to dehydration.
As Americans, we are fortunate to have access safe drinking water almost anywhere we go. And, it’s not often that we have to worry about the water we are drinking.
That being said, there are many toxic chemicals and pollutants that can creep into our water sources completely undetected.
In fact, it took residents in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts years to discover that polluted water was causing unusual numbers of childhood Leukemia cases.
To learn more about what happened--and how you can continue to keep your home water supply safe and pure--keep reading…
The History of the Woburn Massachusetts Water Contamination Epidemic
Before we dive in, it’s essential to discuss the history of a contaminated water epidemic that took place in Massachusetts during the 1970s.
Here’s the history...
According to MassMoments.org, in 1973, a little boy named Jimmy Anderson who lived in Woburn Massachusetts was diagnosed with leukemia.
At first the family thought it was a fluke--until 7 other children in the same town were also diagnosed with Leukemia and later passed away.
During the same time people, a handful of other children became very ill. Thankfully, they survived.
With an unheard-of number of Leukemia diagnoses, the community became skeptical that something was polluting their water sources.
Eventually the city conducted water tests that proved that the water in two public wells was, in fact, seriously polluted with toxic chemicals from industrial waste.
It was discovered that several barrels of chemicals had been dumped near the Aberjona River.
The test results proved that the wells were contaminated with TCE and other industrial byproducts.
Eventually, it was discovered that the chemicals were from two factories owned by two of America's largest corporations-W.R. Grace & Co. and Beatrice Foods Co.
The families went on to hire a personal injury lawyer by the name of Jan Schlictmann. This started the beginning of a landmark trial, as well as a new era of concern and accountability about the effects of toxic waste.
While no amount of apologies or monetary compensations could account for the lives of the children lost, it was a major learning lesson for our country about dumping chemicals and polluting water sources.
What We Can Learn From this Historic Event
As mentioned earlier, we are a privileged nation that doesn’t often have to be concerned with where we are getting our water. But we should be. In more recent years, well-publicized water contamination events appeared in Hinkley, California (the Erin Brockovich city) and Flint, Michigan.
It’s always important to be thinking about your health and it’s easy to put some precautions in place to ensure the water you and your family drinks is safe.
Here’s what we recommend...
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
The location of your water source is directly related to the potential of your water source becoming contaminated.
For starters, The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 does not test or put safety standards in place for private wells. If you’re drinking from a well, you need to be responsible for having the water tested to assure its safety.
Groundwater contamination is another thing you’ve got to consider.
According to Groundwater.org, 50% of us in the US depend on groundwater for drinking.
That being said, it’s possible for groundwater to be contaminated due to man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemical pollutants from factories and other industrial buildings.
If you live near…
- Big factories
- Electrical plants
- Garbage dumps
- Chemical Plants
...there’s a higher chance of your water supply accidentally becoming contaminated and dangerous to drink.
So, how do you ensure your water remains safe to drink? That bring me to my next point...
Take Part in City Water Testing
Thankfully, we now have laws in place that ensure our drinking water is tested on a regular basis.
In fact, according to the CDC…
“Every community water supplier must provide an annual report, sometimes called a Consumer Confidence Report, or "CCR," to its customers. The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water's source, contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water.”
You may notice that about once a year you might receive a little test tube with instructions to fill the tube with water and mail it back in to the city.
This is part of the water testing process as water quality can differ from neighborhood to neighborhood.
If you get one of these test tubes, please do as directed, fill the tube, and mail it back in. The postage should be already paid for on the envelope.
Everyone needs to do their part to ensure the quality of the water in your town is safe.
Install Your Own At-Home Water Filtration System
Installing a water filtration system is a great way to be proactive when it comes to water safety.
There are many affordable filtration systems, such as the Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System, that work hard to remove metals, chemicals, and 200+ contaminents out of your drinking water on a daily basis.
You can never be too safe when it comes to purifying your drinking water.
This type of system will give you the reassurance you need whether a water contamination disaster was to occur, or whether you simply find comfort in drinking extra purified water.
Keep tabs on your Family and Your Communities Health
Last but not least, one of the biggest lessons we learned from this event is to pay attention to what’s happening in your community.
The citizens of Woburn did the right thing by demanding water testing as soon as they realized their kids were getting sick at an alarming rate.
Thanks to the community members that stepped forward, countless lives were saved.
If you notice any scary trends (such as illness outbreaks) in your area, alert your city and elected officials.
The Bottom Line on Water Safety...
While we are fortunate to live in a great country where we can easily access clean water, it’s always important to be aware that we are not immune to disaster.
Whether it be a nuclear explosion, a chemical leak from a factory, or a sewage leak, there are many things that can quickly compromise the quality and safety of the water we drink.
It is my hope that we can all learn from tragic events that have happened in the past so that we can keep the future safe for ourselves and our families.
Have a great day and stay safe and alert!
Grant Miller, My Patriot Supply