Drinking purified water and having your water tested at home can be a lifesaver for those with polluted homes, according to research.
A new study by researchers at the University of Melbourne has found that in areas with more than 1,000 residents, those who took part in the study had less polluted water than those who did not.
The study found that the average amount of contaminated water in a household in a city was 1,814 litres per person per year.
The average amount in a country with 1,500 residents was 1.45 litres per capita per year, the researchers found.
Dr Michael Richey from the University’s Institute of Environmental Health Sciences said the results were important because they showed that there were “very significant differences” in levels of contaminants.
“It’s not just the amount that’s important, it’s also the quality of the water,” Dr Richeys said.
“The more contaminated water, the worse the quality is.”
Dr Richeies study found people who lived in communities with more polluted water had lower levels of certain types of bacteria in their blood.
He said the study showed that people living in polluted areas were more likely to have water contamination levels that were lower than those living in other areas.
“We know that people are more likely if they have polluted water to drink polluted water,” he said.
He also said there was a clear link between the amount of polluted water and the levels of various pollutants.
“If there’s more contaminated drinking water and if the pollution is bad, you’ll see a more marked increase in some of the contaminants that you’re exposed to, but also you’ll also see more of those contaminants being eliminated,” Dr Michael said.
A key takeaway: ‘Dirty water is the new clean’The researchers looked at data from Australia and New Zealand to determine whether pollution was increasing or decreasing across a population.
“You see pollution levels that are increasing in the cities but there’s also a change in the number of polluted communities,” Dr Richard Mears from the National Health and Medical Research Council said.
The researchers found that while in urban areas people were consuming more polluted drinking water, in smaller towns and villages pollution was declining.
“There was a big difference between the levels that we found in the rural areas and the urban areas,” Dr Mears said.
“You could see that in some towns, the number one pollutant was nitrate, which is a nitrous oxide.”
Dr Mears also said while the amount and types of contaminants in polluted water were different, it was not uncommon for residents to be exposed to them at home.
“They may be drinking it, they may have used it in the house, they have a contaminated bathroom or shower, they’re in a building with a sewer system,” he told ABC News.
“In other words, there are different sources of contamination that you can be exposed too.”
Dr Michael said the findings showed that while there were problems with the water quality in some areas, there was no obvious link between it and pollution levels.
“Dirty air is not just dirty water, it is also dirty water is also bad,” he noted.
“And pollution levels are a proxy for pollution levels, so they can tell you where you’re going to get the worst contamination, or the best contamination, and how long it takes to get rid of it.”
Dr Richard Mear said while some people did not get as much polluted water as they could have, there were positives.
“When it comes to the pollution, the people who have more polluted homes have less polluted air,” he explained.
“People who live in polluted homes are not only getting less polluted, they are also having healthier lifestyles.”
The research was published in Environmental Health Science.