On Thursday, 27th of February 2020, it was announced that a large part of Houston and its environs area is experiencing the case of contaminated water due to a 96-pipe water burst causing flooded streets, water outages, and low water pressure, hence making tap water unfit for consumption. This has triggered the case of emergency care, where many are advised to boil water for it to be fit for consumption. On Friday afternoon, Mayor Sylvester Turner extended the boiling water notice as an emergency care approach till Saturday, with over 40 samples collected and handed over to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for contamination. If not properly contained, contaminated water can lead to widespread symptoms and gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting accompanied by some neurological symptoms like headaches.
As expected, many questioned the efficiency of having to boil water. The boiling of water kills the bacteria and viruses, parasites, and other organisms that may cause gastrointestinal diseases and neurological symptoms. Below are some of the frequently asked questions as well as how to take on the medical emergency at home.
What does it mean when water is contaminated?
Water being contaminated means it contains contaminants that may be physical, biological, or radiological. If consumed, some contaminants may be harmful to human’s physical health if consumed at certain levels. In the case of Houston’s water contamination case, it is advised to boil and filter your water as it poses harm to human health.
How do you know if Water is contaminated?
The sources of drinking water are subject to contamination and need appropriate treatments to eliminate the disease-causing organism or contaminant. As earlier mentioned, water contaminants can be physical, biological, or chemical with the sources being caused by wastewater releases, the land practice uses, sewer overflows, minerals like arsenic or uranium.
What disease can you get from contaminated water?
There are several mild to severe diseases that can be caused by consuming contaminated water either by drinking or via other domestic uses. Some of the diseases that can be caused by contaminated water include; Trachoma, Dysentery, Arsenicosis (caused by the mineral arsenic), Polio, Cholera, Typhoid fever, Schistosomiasis, Lead poisoning, and Malaria.
Recognizing Signs of Illness
Illnesses caused by water contamination can cause different types of symptoms. Though vomiting and diarrhea are quite the most common symptoms reported, some other symptoms include eye problems, breaking out of the skin, respiratory, and ear problems.
Boiling Water Notice: Boiling Water Instruction
Since the outbreak and boil notice, it has become imperative to protect yourself, family, and friends from contaminated water even though it takes effort. The boiling water notice was issued as a precaution to protect consumers from drinking contaminated water. Such notice is passed only when there is an unexpected condition of water contamination in public water systems.
As per boiling water instruction, it is advised to bring water to a rolling boil for one minute. Allow cooling before use. It is advised to boil water for cooking, drinking, and washing. Presently the boiling water notice has been lifted, making the public water fit for consumption, although we advise boiling and using disinfectants for washing till fully confirmed over.