As a resident of Chicago, have you ever stopped to think about the quality of your tap water? If not, it’s time to start paying attention. In recent years, there have been increasing concerns about the presence of mercury in your water, and it’s a problem that shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you’re responsible for the well-being of your entire staff. While you can’t control the water people drink at home, you can give them access to clean, mercury-free drinking water at work with Office H2O. But here’s why mercury in any of our tap water should be concerning.
What is Mercury and How Does it Get into Our Drinking Water?
Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in air, soil, and water. It exists in several forms – elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury. When mercury enters water, it can get transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish and shellfish.
Mercury primarily enters our water systems through industrial processes, agricultural run-off, and natural weathering of rocks. Industrial facilities release mercury as a by-product into the atmosphere, which eventually settles over land and water bodies. Agricultural run-off can also contain mercury from high-mercury pesticides used in farming. Similarly, the weathering of rocks along the shores of Lake Michigan can release mercury into the soil and underground water sources.
Once released into the water, mercury enters the food chain, affecting aquatic life and posing a significant health risk to humans consuming contaminated water or fish from the lake. The concern over mercury is not just its presence; it’s the potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification, where mercury concentration increases as it moves up the food chain, ultimately reaching us–the humans at the top.
The Detrimental Impact of Mercury in Drinking Water on Chicago Residents
Neurological Disorders: Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious neurological conditions, including tremors, memory problems, and even Parkinson’s disease. This is especially concerning for children and infants, as their developing brains are particularly vulnerable.
Cardiovascular Problems: Studies have linked mercury exposure to an increased risk of heart disease. Chronic consumption of mercury-contaminated water can lead to cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and irregular heart rhythms.
Kidney Damage: Mercury, particularly in its inorganic form, can accumulate in the kidneys, leading to kidney failure over time. This is due to the kidneys’ role in filtering out toxins from the blood, where mercury can become trapped and cause damage.