The Health Hazards of Water Contamination in North-Central Colorado

Water contamination is a major problem in North-Central Colorado, with potential health hazards that can be caused by the presence of microorganisms. These risks can range from digestive illnesses and effects on the heart, skin, lungs, kidneys, or nervous system to an increased risk of cancer from consuming water with high levels of certain metals over a long period of time. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of water pollution, as it can affect their development. The pollution of drinking water can be caused by a variety of sources, such as wastewater, lawn fertilizer, and mining activities.

Homeowners should keep a detailed record of test results to track changes in water quality over time. In developing countries, drinking water contaminated with wastewater is often the cause of cholera. Hydraulic fracturing is another process that can have a negative impact on health and the environment, including drilling wells, producing fracturing fluids, disposing wastewater, transporting materials, and processing gases and liquids. Under Colorado law, agricultural stormwater runoff, irrigation return flows, and certain water management activities associated with storing or supplying water are exempt from regulation. Water contaminants are broadly defined as any substance that adversely affects water quality or impairs the intended uses of that water.

The Dillon, Cherry Creek and Chatfield reservoirs, the Bear Creek watershed and Cheraw Lake are subject to control regulations. It is important to assess the strength of the association between risk factors such as air and water pollution and health outcomes among populations living close to shale gas exploitation activities compared to those living in areas without these activities. State and federal agencies are not the only ones monitoring water quality in Colorado; universities, watershed groups, municipalities, and private industry also play a role. The consequences of water contamination go beyond health risks; it can also lead to a loss of productivity and wages due to people having to spend a considerable amount of time and physical effort collecting drinking water. This was seen in the Thames and Seine rivers which were declared biologically dead for decades due to local water pollution destroying virtually all plant and animal life in the waterways. Fortunately, some Latin American countries have successfully improved their water supply infrastructure which has resulted in a decrease in mortality rates from unsafe water sources. However, some members of the public health community are still concerned about the potential negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing on human health.

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