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Through the Looking Glass: A Viewpoint on Public Health

Drinking Water Safety

Avni Desai, MD, Public/Community Health, 11:43AM Feb 14, 2013

"Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink!"I think about this caption today, I can say that the safety of drinking water has been on our minds since a long time. Lets us see how water under the ground can potentially be contaminated.  The process of hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling into rock to allow emissions of gas or fluid for reserves. During this process, the water accessed is usually discarded back into the drilled hole, or treated for use. The big question is, since the Earth has a rock layer, does drilling into it; meaning  we are effectively creating a crack or fissure in the rock plate to reach the gas/liquid gas beneath it.However, if in this process, we create a channel of communication between the water, which is below the rock layer as well, then we are contaminating the water. Although, treated with chemicals, and other systems like ozone purification later, it may still hold the potential pollutants, much longer than we may know. I quote from the EPA website that by 2020, about 20% of the natural gas obtained will be shale gas through drilling or hydraulic fracturing processes. This means that a lot of the water under the rock layer will be wasted and/or likely contaminated.

Recently, the country has seen that drinking water, in most cities, contains drugs of various kinds,especially antidepressants, and other class drugs.This is the same water that flows through the taps in our homes, and we are

using it for human consumption. . This same water is being channelized to provide water for schools, universities and other public buildings. This serious issue should be dealt with immediately. There is an urgent need for a public health action. Question here is not what Government can do.. but what can you do? We are putting ourselves at risk everyday, but certainly,some risks can be minimized by action on the individual's part.

You can  make sure the drugs you take are not excessive. Check with your doctor, if you do not need the medication anymore,there must be safer methods of discarding the remaining medicine without endangering the environment.   With this development, the safety of the water we drink is certainly in question and people of this country will appreciate any efforts on the part of the EPA to investigate further contamination of water due to activities to obtain shale gas.

Poll: Do you feel that the EPA needs to pay more attention to activities related to natural resources and mechanisms to procure them to ensure human safety? a) Yes|b) No|c) Doesn't matter|
About This Blog

“Through the Looking Glass: A Viewpoint on Public Health” is a thought provoking blog featuring personal perspectives on current public health events and issues in developing nations and in the United States. The postings will cover a range of topics, including current events and ongoing public health concerns. Avni is deeply influenced by her cultural roots in India and transition to the United States, which has given her a broader outlook about the state of public health across the 2 nations.

Disclosure: Avni Desai, MBBS, MPH, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.Poll: Do you think long term care deserves much more attention? a) Yes|b) No|c) I don't know|d)I don't care|

  • Avni Desai

    Avni Desai, a medical doctor by training, has a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University and worked previously in the not-for-profit sector. She continues to serve as a public health advisor to a number of non-governmental organizations, including Arise India Foundation and a local NGO in Gujarat, India. Avni was selected for the Knowledge Community on Children in India Internship at UNICEF in 2007. In 2008, she authored an article about medicinal plants and cancer chemoprevention while at Columbia University, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine in Jammu, India. Presently, Avni works as part of a research team at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Georgetown University Medical Center and loves writing about public health issues.


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