Nitrates can occur naturally in the earth, however the majority of nitrate contamination is a result of crop fertilization. Nitrates happen to be one of the most widespread chemical contaminants found in our water supply today. Most publicly supplied water sources will filter out nitrates, making their water safe to drink, but consumers who drink from privately owned wells are not protected against nitrate contamination. Drinking nitrate contaminated water while pregnant can cause serious birth defects but it can also be a risk even after birth. Babies who drink formula made with water that has a high concentrate of nitrates can suffer from blue baby syndrome. Blue baby syndrome results from decreased oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin which can lead to brain damage or even death.
Just recently a new concern has arisen regarding water contamination and that is fracking. Fracking is a relatively new concept to extract oil and gas; it involves drilling massive holes over layers of shale and then injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at extremely high pressure into the holes to break up the shale and release the gas below. Companies that uses this method of extraction, Exposed to toxins at Camp Lejeune are not required by law to release the exact chemical composition of the mixture they are shooting into the ground but tests have shown that this mixture contains numerous carcinogens and other highly toxic substances that have contaminated wells and aquifers leading to sick or dying wildlife and livestock, dead patches of earth where crops once grew and unexplained outbreaks of disease and birth defects.
So how do we protect ourselves and our unborn children from these contaminants? Well, the simplest answer is to only drink filtered drinking water. There are water filters out on the market today that can effectively reduce these contaminates to non-detect levels, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of illness and potential birth defects in our children. Water filtration systems should especially be used in high agricultural areas and wherever water is supplied from a private well.
Even water supplied from a municipal water source can have an impact on our health. They often employ the use of chlorine to decontaminate the water, but in doing so, they are then adding another chemical that we are ingesting. The US Council of Environmental Quality stated that the risk of cancer in those who drink chlorinated water is 93% higher than those who don’t. It has also been questioned in relation to childhood asthma, birth defects, risk of miscarriage, liver problems and kidney problems.
It is no wonder the prevalence of birth defects are so high in our country with the seemingly constant contamination of our water supplies. Even if we think our water is safe to drink, it just makes sense to take that extra step and have it filtered before we drink it. If we can save the heartache of birth defects in our children and illnesses down the road it is more than worth the price of a water filtration system.