Sunday, May 8, 2022

Did You Have Your Glass of Raw Sewage, er, Water Today?

If you haven’t heard of raw water, it’s pretty much what you think it is. Untreated, unfiltered, unsterilized water. Those who drink it collect it from springs or they pay for bottles of water someone says they collected from “natural” sources.

Those on the raw water train believe raw water is healthier than water from the tap or bottled water. This is the same raw water that provided 19th century Americans with the average life span of 40 years. Treated water, on the other hand, has given 21st century Americans an average life span of 75 years.

Lately I’ve been feelings as if I fell into a Charles Dickens novel. It’s as if all the great medical advances we’ve made against diseases has gone down the drain–where a lot of the causes of those diseases live.

People, especially those living in more modern countries, have access to all sorts of medical miracles that have prolonged their lives. Why, they even get to keep all their teeth these days. But for many of them, it’s as if some fairy godmother sprinkled wellness dust over this country and centuries of medical science had nothing to do with it.

I know a lot of people are distrustful of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the truth is a political party took them hostage and politicians and pundits who have never spent one moment studying diseases discredited the most prestigious public health organization in the world.

Back to raw water.

Any camper with sense knows the CDC’s cautions about drinking untreated water are true, or else why would a camper take along water purification tablets when they camp?

So when the CDC says that “while water flowing in streams and rivers of the backcountry might look pure, it can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical contaminants,” they are telling the truth. The agency warns that drinking contaminated water can increase the risk of developing certain infectious diseases caused by pathogens such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, and norovirus, in addition to others.”

The CDC also warns about drinking raw water because all sorts of animal species pee and poo in various raw water sources. Then there’s the chemical contaminants which leech through the soil to the spring water.

So, here’s the raw water aficionado at the mouth of a spring filling up bottles with tasty raw water. Problem is, the mouth of the spring is not the source of the water in the spring. The mouth is the end of a long journey the water took to get there. The raw water aficionado has no idea what percolated into the water during its journey.

It’s just hard to believe there are people who have access to safe drinking water, but prefer to drink from streams. Too bad we can’t take that raw water person’s quota of treated water and give it to someone who has no access to clean water.