Clean water is something that’s absolutely crucial to maintaining good health. From keeping us hydrated to regulating our body’s functions, its importance cannot be overlooked. However, there is one thing that has always proved to be a thorn in the flesh, especially for the vulnerable group of people.
You guessed it right. It’s water contamination.
In accordance with a recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, almost half of the country’s tap water is contaminated by toxins known as “forever chemicals.” These are scary numbers, mind you!
In this article, we’ll look at some of the serious health impacts of contaminated water on vulnerable groups. Additionally, we’ll look at the reasons why these people are more susceptible to adverse health impacts.
Why Vulnerable Groups Are at a Higher Risk?
As far as vulnerable populations are concerned, there are three sets of people whom we need to take into consideration. Let us look at each one of them categorically and analyze why they are at higher health risk.
When we talk about children, they are the most vulnerable to waterborne diseases. The reason is their slowly developing immune systems. According to the WHO, more than 1.4 million people (most of them being children) die every year due to contaminated water.
Now, speaking of health risks, these contaminated waters can expose children to diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis A, cholera, etc.
This is again one of those cases where immunity plays a significant role. People who are old have weaker immunity, which makes them more prone to contaminated water. Most of them suffer from chronic health conditions that weaken their immunity and make them vulnerable to infections.
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors reported that more than 60% of U.S. adults suffer from at least one chronic disease. Often, contaminated water affects older adults more severely with diseases like cholera, Legionnaires’ disease, Giardiasis, etc., eventually resulting in their death.
People with low incomes usually miss out on the amenities that rich people or middle-class people get. They’re more likely to live in areas with poorly maintained water infrastructure or contaminated water supply.
To make things worse, most of them have limited knowledge about diseases caused by contaminated water. It is estimated that almost 40% of these communities are unaware of water-borne diseases, such as diarrhea and typhoid.
One such example of the health impacts of contaminated water that comes to our mind is the Camp Lejeune water contamination case. The Camp Lejeune military base’s water supply was contaminated with toxic chemicals from 1953 to 1987. According to TorHoerman Law, approximately 1 million people may have been exposed to toxic substances in Camp Lejeune’s water.
While contamination was first detected in 1982, the Marine Corps didn’t let the public know or provide safe drinking water until 1985. By then, millions of people had been exposed to contaminated water.
Now, talking about health problems, there have been a lot of them that have been linked to the chemicals in the water, including cancer, liver damage, reproductive problems, kidney damage, immune system problems, birth defects, neurological problems, etc.
Most people are filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit to seek justice and fair compensation for medical expenses and other damages. Through this lawsuit, they are looking for a fair settlement that will recognize their suffering.
How Do We Fix This Issue?
The first step in getting clean water is recognizing the problems faced by vulnerable groups of people. There’s more to it than acknowledgment; it’s about taking action, and making a difference. This change depends not only on advocates, but also on policies that break down barriers.
In this section, we’ll look at how advocacy and policy work together to make clean water more accessible to everyone.
Policy Changes for Fair Access
It takes systemic changes at the policy level to make sure everyone has access to clean water. So, it’s up to governments and regulatory bodies to establish frameworks that prioritize clean water for everyone.
Policy changes may include increased investment in water infrastructure, stricter regulations for water quality, and initiatives designed to address inequalities.
Campaigning and Raising Awareness
Campaigning is another powerful way to raise awareness of the challenges faced by minorities. The power of advocacy is that it makes people aware of injustices and inspires change.
Social media, awareness campaigns, and community outreach can help individuals, organizations, and communities come together and make a much-required difference. In addition to educating the public, raising awareness encourages people to support clean water policies and initiatives.
Contaminated water has a significant impact on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Let us take the necessary steps and collectively take responsibility by standing up for those who are disproportionately affected.
In this way, we’re not just protecting the most vulnerable ones but also fighting for a fundamental right.