Effects of Heavy Metals Contamination in Drinking Water

Last Updated on 13 February, 2024 by Sourav Roy

Due to the sudden uprising of industrialization, the amount of contaminants in our environment, especially in water, is increasing day by day. However, pollution does not only occur due to human-made issues. It also happens because of various natural disasters, such as a tsunami or tornado, or many more.

Effects of Heavy Metals Contamination in Drinking Water

How Do Heavy Metals Affect the Water?

There are numerous things, such as bacteria, dust, dirt, etc., that can contaminate our drinking water. However, among them, the most prominent ones are heavy metals. The most dangerous thing about them is that they have a superior dissolving capability. So, they can be present in your drinking water without any trace.

Heavy metals, such as cadmium or lead, usually pollute groundwater, which helps in serving around 65% of Indian residents daily. Due to this reason, in various states of India, like Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, many people are losing their lives because of drinking metalloid-contaminated water.

So, how can we abolish the harmful effects of heavy metals on water and make the world a better place? Let’s check it out together.

Recommended Reading: 9 Best Water Purifiers In India 2024


Health Issues Associated with Heavy Metal-dissolved Water

There are numerous types of metalloids available in the environment that can affect the purity of water. However, among them, lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium are the most prominent ones.

So, how do they get dissolved into the water? Moreover, how can they affect our health? Here are some details on these aspects that can help you to understand more about the aspects of the effects of heavy metals on water.


1. Arsenic

Arsenic is almost omnipresent. Glass or semi-conductor manufacturing companies use it to coat their products and make their exterior more robust. On the other hand, the wood product creators also use it as a coating device to prevent rotting issues.

Furthermore, most pesticides, which the farmers tend to use on the plants, also do contain a high amount of arsenic. In this case, the metalloid usually leeches through the ground or soil and pollutes the groundwater.

Currently, around 70 different countries in the world are suffering from the issues of arsenic contamination. A report has revealed that about 75% of arsenic cases have occurred due to over usage of pesticides.

So, as of now, we have only known about how arsenic metalloids contaminate water. But how does it affect our health? Well, for starters, arsenic accumulation in the brain can affect your peripheral nervous system and cause severe headaches.

It can also make you paralyzed if you do not stop drinking arsenic-mixed water. Secondly, metalloid is a type of carcinogenic agent. Thus, if you get too much exposure to it, then it can also cause lung and skin cancer.

Thirdly, if anyone consumes or inhales a high amount of arsenic components, then it can affect the individual’s heart pretty gravely. That, in turn, can lead to heart failure of the person. Moreover, it can affect the intelligence level of the children as well.

Lastly, arsenic-based intoxication can also cause severe breathing and digestion problems, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea. Due to these reasons, the experts and doctors always suggest the people living in high-risk areas to use a best water purifier.

Recommended Reading: Arsenic Poisoning in Water


2. Lead

Unlike arsenic, you can find lead in various consumer-based products, such as hair dyes, automobile-related gears, and paints. Additionally, candy sweets, too, contain a small number of lead components.

Besides, the smelting enterprises, as well as the cheap pesticides, contain a high amount of lead as well. So, like the former, lead, too, can get disseminated from a plethora of places. But how do they cause harm to our health?

To begin with, lead can affect and alter the nature of our brain chemicals. That, in turn, can lead to behavioural problems, such as raging for no reason in a human being. Besides, it might also kill your body’s red blood cells and cause anaemia.

Moreover, in children, lead can deplete their IQ level. Thus, they cannot learn anything new or encounter various difficulties when trying to do so. It can sometimes also cause breathing problems in toddlers, which is quite alarming indeed.

Continuous exposure to lead can also reduce your body’s sperm production capabilities. It, in turn, can lead to fertility issues. Lastly, it can also affect the standard working procedure of your kidney and cause UTIs.

According to a report, severe lead exposure kills almost a million people worldwide, and lead-based water pollution accounts for around 60% of the deaths. Thus, it is really high time for us to understand the effects of heavy metals on water and act in accordance with it.


3. Mercury

Most of the times, mercury gets produced by combustion oil, diesel, jet fuel, and many other things. However, as the atoms of this particular metalloid are pretty heavy, they cannot stay up in the air for a prolonged period.

Thus, they either get deposited in the water or land on the soil and, then, flow down to the water bodies through rain or other means. Moreover, the oil refineries, cremation grounds, and medical wastes can also emit mercury and pollute the system.

Digestion problem is one of the most common issues caused by mercury-based intoxication. Moreover, it can also damage your kidneys and cause organ failure if left untreated for a prolonged period.

Further, a high mercury buildup in the body can also destroy your optical nerves and cause vision issues and blindness. Deafness is yet another of the common problems of mercury poisoning. In children, the metalloid can be caused severe brain damage, which, in turn, may lead to coordination and speech issues.


4. Cadmium

So, in the last pointer of our discussion of the effects of heavy metals on water and human beings, we will talk about cadmium. Well, as cadmium usually stays present in the mining fields, it often finds a way through to groundwater and pollutes it.

Besides, plastic manufacturing plants also discharge a massive amount of cadmium daily. Lastly, you can also find traces of this specific metalloid in the sewages, which gradually gets mixed with rivers or seas.

Unlike the previous metalloids, cadmium does not cause a wide variety of health problems. But, it can definitely lead to some life-threatening issues. For example, cadmium intoxication can damage the kidneys severely, which, in turn, might lead to organ failure.

Moreover, it can also cause osteoporosis in those individuals who have been consuming cadmium-mixed water for a prolonged period.

Recommended Reading: Effects of Heavy Metals Contamination in Drinking Water


What is the Solution?

The only solution for removing the effects of heavy metals on water would be to take adequate steps to stop the pollution. Firstly, the governments will have to apply some stringent laws to restrain the industries from dispersing the metalloids with water.

As of now, many governments have put a hold on the painting organizations, which used to employ lead in their product. Hence, now, they will also have to stop the wood industries from using arsenic for coating their offerings.

Lastly, the use of mercury in thermometers also needs to be stopped as soon as possible. In this case, the government can promote digital thermometers to serve the same course of action.


What Should the Industries Do?

Well, for starters, they need to stop using coal as fuel and use other cleaner sources of energy. In case you don’t know, the gas emissions from burning coal carry a high amount of mercury components.

Furthermore, the industries should also try to promote composting programs by reusing and recycling the wastes. In turn, it would reduce the severity of toxicity and help reduce the harmful effects of heavy metals on water.

Lastly, the usage of LED lights also needs to get increased, as the CFLs generally contain a high amount of mercury. Healthcare-based organizations, too, should stop using conventional thermometers and, instead, opt for digital ones.


What Should Our Responsibility?

To reduce the death tolls related to the harmful effects of heavy metals on water, we should take some necessary steps as well. Here are a few of them.


1. Using a RO Purifier

One of the best ways to eliminate dissolved metalloids from water is to use the best RO water purifier. Unlike the other similar types of products (UF or UV), these purifiers can correctly separate the metals from the water molecules. Therefore, if you live in a high-risk area, we would suggest you start using an RO technology-based purifier as soon as possible.


2. Avoid Ceramic-made Dishes

Believe it or not, but ceramic dishwares do contain a high quantity of cadmium and lead. Hence, when you put down your foods on it, the existing metalloids can easily get mixed with. Therefore, when you are devouring it, the metalloid component will also enter your body and infect your organs. In the same way, the imported delicacies and food items, too, can contain lead components. Hence, it would be better for you to stop using them as well.


3. Reducing Seafood Consumption

Both mercury and arsenic can be found in the oceans as well as the seas. Therefore, if you do consume a considerable amount of seafood daily, then they can enter your body through them and infect your blood. Hence, in this aspect, reducing the overall quantity of sea-based fishes can be an ideal option for you. Similarly, you should also stop eating canned fishes, as they usually do contain mercury components.


4. Stop Using Lead-based Paints

The paint manufacturing organizations usually use lead on their products to make the colour look bright and glossier. Hence, before buying new paint for your home, you should check if the product contains lead. Moreover, if you have recently purchased a residence, which has lead-based colours on its wall, make sure to scrape it out as soon as possible. If you want to, then you can also hire a specialist for this particular job.


5. Don’t Buy PVC-made Toys

Yes, you have seen it right. Something, which is as pure and childish as a kid, can also be an avid source of lead and cadmium. Sometimes, the children try to chew out the toys will all their force out of curiosity. So, no matter what actions you take, you cannot stop the metalloids from getting spread in your dear ones. Therefore, in that case, it would be better for you to avoid buying such objects in the first place.


6. Say No to Traditional Thermometers

As mentioned before, conventional ones do carry a high amount of mercury. Hence, if you ever drop it from your hands, then it will break completely, and someone might touch or walk on it without noticing. That, in turn, will affect their skin gravely and cause infections. Thus, make sure to throw away the traditional one today and purchase a digital product as soon as possible.


7. Keep an Eye on the TDS Level

Besides following all the pointers mentioned above, you would also have to keep an eye on the TDS level of your drinking water. It will help you to have an idea about the level of toxicity in the liquid.

After checking, if you did find out the amount is more than 600mg/litre, then make sure to call your town municipality as soon as possible. And let them know about it. There is no need to worry if you do not know how to check the TDS of water. There are plenty of websites available on the internet that can help you with it.

Recommended Reading: How to check TDS of water


8. Be Careful with the Pesticides

If you are a farmer, you need to be careful while using pesticides. Try to use as few herbicides as possible. It will keep both your and your plants’ health absolutely wholesome.



So, these are some of the ways that can help you to avert the issues related to metalloid-based water pollution. Make sure to follow each of them carefully and acquire a RO purifier as soon as possible.

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