Why Groundwater Contamination Is More Dangerous Than You Might Think

Like air, water is a necessity that sustains life on Earth. Each one of us needs water to survive and live a healthy life. But, is it just about the water? Probably not!

What we need is drinking water that is free of any contaminants. However, with growing industrialization and urbanization, the threat of contamination is more tangible than ever. Industrial waste and man-made products like gasoline, oil, and road salts seep into groundwater, making it more contaminated.

A recent study from Environmental Science and Technology confirms the saddening reality. The study found that 20% of Americans who obtain their water from wells could be drinking PFAS-contaminated water. PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are linked to severe health conditions like cancer and birth defects, among others.

The stark reality necessitates rapid actions that can efficiently tackle the issue. One potential solution is to spread awareness that can lead to proactive behavior among the masses. This article aims to explain why you should be concerned about groundwater contamination and its potential impact on your life.

Potential to Cause Chronic Diseases

Groundwater contamination can seem like a distant issue, but it’s closer than you might think. It’s there when you turn your faucet on. Various substances can contaminate groundwater, thereby putting you at risk of developing chronic diseases.

Here are a few substances that can find their way into groundwater and cause contamination:


It can be difficult to notice arsenic as it seeps into drinking water sources, but its health effects are alarming. As per the WHO, prolonged consumption of water containing arsenic can increase the risk of developing arsenic poisoning, known as arsenicosis. This condition can lead to various health problems such as skin cancer, bladder cancer, kidney issues, lung cancer, etc.


Due to industrial operations and improper disposal practices, benzene can infiltrate groundwater. Benzene-contaminated water can pose significant threats to human health. Camp Lejeune serves as a perfect example of how water contaminated with benzene led to the development of severe diseases. According to TorHoerman Law, these diseases include cancer, childhood diseases, birth defects, and more.

The incident mandated a legal inquiry and action from the victims. By initiating a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, the affected individuals aimed to secure fair compensation for their losses. They also sought to raise awareness so that others wouldn’t have to endure similar severe consequences.

The lawsuit is ongoing, but victims require the right legal representation to realize their rights. Hiring an expert lawyer can ease the burden for those who have suffered despite not being at fault.

Limited Remediation Options

The gravity of groundwater contamination becomes even more intense as addressing it is no easy task. To make matters worse, consider a recent statistic shared by the National Ground Water Association. The organization discovered that groundwater provides drinking water to more than half of the U.S. population.

Once groundwater becomes contaminated, addressing the issue becomes difficult. But what makes the task so challenging? Here are a few constraints:

Difficult to Detect and Remove

Unlike surface water pollution, groundwater contaminants are hard to detect and remove. Traditional cleanup methods are often slow, expensive, and sometimes ineffective.

Financial Burden

The costs associated with remediation, monitoring, and public health interventions can be massive, straining the resources of local governments and communities. This financial strain can hinder timely and effective responses to contamination incidents, leaving residents vulnerable to long-term health consequences.

Long-Term Environmental Impact

Far from being just a present-day concern, groundwater contamination also has far-reaching effects on the environment. Groundwater contamination contributes to the pollution of aquifers, the deterioration of soil quality, and among others.

Contamination of Aquifers

Aquifers are underground reservoirs of water that sustain ecosystems and provide water for agricultural and industrial purposes. When pollutants seep into these vital sources, they can persist for years, compromising the sustainability of water resources.

A recent investigation by the New York Times into the U.S. groundwater crisis shows that aquifers throughout the nation are declining. The research indicates that 45% of the wells studied have experienced a substantial decrease in water levels since 1980. In the last decade, 40% of the locations registered historically low water levels.

Degradation of Soil Quality

As contaminated water percolates through the ground, it can introduce toxins and chemicals into the soil, making it unsuitable for agriculture. This threatens food production while also disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems that depend on healthy soil.

These long-lasting environmental impacts underscore the critical need for proactive measures to prevent and mitigate groundwater contamination.

Makes Vulnerable Communities More Vulnerable

Groundwater contamination doesn’t affect everyone equally, and it often hits vulnerable communities the hardest. These communities, often low-income or marginalized, bear the brunt of contamination’s consequences. 

Here’s how groundwater contamination exacerbates hardships for vulnerable communities:

Make It Hard to Access Essential Services

Groundwater contamination disrupts essential services in these communities. As water treatment costs soar due to contamination, local governments may be forced to cut corners or raise water rates. This will put an additional burden on residents already struggling to make ends meet. This can result in a vicious cycle, where contamination not only jeopardizes health but also deepens the economic hardships.

Displace Communities

Groundwater contamination can also displace communities. When contamination renders their water sources unsafe, residents may be forced to relocate, uprooting their lives and social networks. This displacement adds to the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, as they try to rebuild their lives in unfamiliar surroundings.

Final Thoughts

As a conscientious citizen, don’t wait for groundwater contamination to make headlines before taking action. It poses a threat to your health, the environment, and communities, with an impact that extends beyond what meets the eye. Your proactive approach can help mitigate its very real and far-reaching dangers. 

As we’ve explored, groundwater contamination can pose risks to human health, the environment, and vulnerable communities. So, why should you care? Because it’s not just about water but it’s also about your well-being.

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