About two weeks ago we were informed that our well water tested positive for PFOAs (a chemical used in products that resist sticking, heat, water, stains, and grease. This man-made chemical can remain in ground water for a long time and is dangerous to humans and animals in large doses. The “safe” level is 70 ppm and the number in our water rang in around 150 ppm.
Thankfully, my husband has a very refined pallet when it comes to his drinking water, and a while ago he purchased a chilled water jug dispenser, like the kind you see in an office. The boys have been drinking mostly out of that for a year. So at least my initial worry wasn’t the boys. Additionally, the danger of chemicals in the PFAS family is their accumulation in the body, not simply the exposure, and we’ve only lived here two years, so it could be worse.
However, the county dropped off six cases of water and a kitchen faucet filter and just of left us on our own. There was no follow-up, no additional information about what, if anything, happens next, no 800 number to call with questions, no handouts, nothing. We were left to do our own research regarding the safety of our animals and livestock, our property value, another other in-home filtration systems, etc.
I must admit, I was angry. This wasn’t fair. This is our new house, the result of, quite literally, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. How could the water be bad? Cooking with bottled was is a pain, not to mention how painful it is to my eco-soul to use all of those plastic bottles of water. But over the next week, as more and more friends and coworkers expressed their concern or offered to help with anything, I started to feel kind of bad about these feelings of pity.
Until we have a chance to get the filters installed, yes cooking with bottled water IS a pain, but I am still lucky to live in a country that has testing and then a safe alternative. I’m also thankful the county gave us the water and filters for free. So what’s a bit of an inconvenience if it means an immediate solution?
I also considered the many people around the world that don’t even have access to clean drinking water. In fact, here are some startling facts from DoSomething.org:
- 780 million people lack access to an improved water source — approximately 1 in 9 people.
- Every minute a child dies of a water-related disease.
- People suffering from water-related illnesses fill half of the world’s hospital beds.
- 10% of the global disease burden could be reduced with improved water supply. Not only would it increase hydration, but sanitation and hygiene as well.[
And this ultimately is the kicker:
In the world, more than twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water.
I recently watched an episode of Rotten on Netflix about water, and as I was opening a bottle of water and emptying it into my coffeemaker I thought about a small village in Nigeria whose access to water has been cut off by the addition of a major highway – paid for by Nestle to service the enormous plant they built. The locals, who were already walking nearly a mile to the river to collect water, now must cross a harrowing high way, only to find a now-polluted, dwindling river because of Nestle’s activity. Yet, that is the water they drink because that is the only water they have access to.
We will continue to research the best whole house filters and how to keep our livestock safe, but in the meantime, I will do my best to remember that if opening a bottle to boil some noodles, or making an extra trip to the recycling station means a hardship, then I am lucky enough to live a very privileged life.
World Health Organization and UNICEF. “Progress on sanitation and drinking-water – 2014 update.” 2014. Web Accessed May 2, 2015