The Dangers of Dirty Water
The Dangers of Dirty WaterHere at Weathermatic, we know the importance of saving our customers water. However, we are immeasurably fortunate to have water for irrigation and drinking. Worldwide, nearly one billion people cannot access clean drinking water, and it keeps them sick, impoverished, uneducated, and oppressed. Water and Physical Health3.4 million people die per year from water-related diseases, all but 1% of which are in the developing world. That’s more than the number of people who die from hurricanes, earthquakes, tsumanis, and floods combined. Dirty drinking water, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene cause 90% of all diseases. Twenty percent of all deaths worldwide are from diarrhea, more than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined. The weakest members of society suffer most: one child under five years old dies every 21 seconds from a water-related disease – that’s 3,400 children per day.Why is dirty drinking water so deadly? Sometimes, it is from pollution, such as industrial waste, agricultural chemicals, or heavy metals from the environment. In most cases, human and animal waste goes right back into the water supply, from which diseases are spread. According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are five types of water-related diseases:
- Waterborne: Microparasites, bacteria, and viruses that live in waste-contaminated water: typhoid, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, and Giardia.
- Water-washed: Limited water reduces personal hygiene, so diseases normally eliminated by washing instead infect and debilitate victims: scabies, leprosy, and blinding trachoma.
- Water-based: Macroparasites like worms and flukes live in the water and infect bathers or people who ingest them. 80% of people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from Schistosomiasis (a fluke infection).
- Water-related: Insects like flies and mosquitoes breed in water and carry these diseases: malaria, river blindness, and yellow fever.
- Poor Sanitation: When fecal waste gets into the soil, it causes diseases like hookworm.
Water and Socioeconomic Health The unavailability of clean drinking water also damages the socioeconomic health of individuals and communities:
- Poverty: Two-thirds of people lacking water live on less than $2 per day. Water scarcity reinforces poverty as people lose work time to disease, pay for water access, and pay for medical treatment for disease. Additionally, women and children spend hundreds of hours per year traveling to get water instead of learning or earning income.
- Education: 150 million school-aged children with parasites suffer from resulting anemia, stunted health, and other symptoms that cause absenteeism, drop-out, decreased thinking ability, and attention deficits. Most of the 1.5 million children who cannot go to school are girls prevented by lack of proper toilets or required to fetch water.
- Women: Women spend 15-20 hours per week walking up to seven miles to fetch 40-pound jerry cans of water. They often do this early in the morning or late at night, putting themselves at greater risk for sexual assault. Sadly, the water they risk their lives for is often dirty and will sicken them and their families.
Clean Water: Providing the Key to Health People need clean water, proper sanitation, and good hygiene to reduce disease, poverty, and socioeconomic ills. We have made good progress in providing people with clean water: this year, the World Health Organization announced the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of people without access to clean water had been met three years early. Unfortunately, 783 million people are still suffer from unclean drinking water. Knowing the importance of clean water, we at Weathermatic have partnered with organizations such as Living Water International to bring clean water and hygiene education to those in need. Please join us in our effort to provide clean water and a chance at a life unburdened from disease, poverty, and oppression. Find out more at http://www.savewatergivelife.org.-- Bill Robinson, EVP Sustainability Services
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