Until the 1970’s scientists believed that water would be purified of contaminant as it trickled down through the various layers of soil. But many of the hundreds of commercial chemicals developed before and since World War II are not filtered out. Many solvents and pesticides pass through aquifers. Contaminated groundwater supplies have been increasing at alarming rates.
Aquifers have become a dumping ground for leaching landfills, runoffs from fertilizers and pesticides, leaking gasoline storage tanks not to mention the toxic wastes that have been injected directly into the ground. The injections are supposedly beneath water tables but water tables change and can be vulnerable to buried wastes.
Even common chemicals can ruin your drinking water. One pint of a common degreaser found in some household cleaners can pollute 10 million gallons of water. One cup of trichloroethylene, a chemical found in products such as septic tank cleaners, furniture strippers and dry cleaning fluids, can contaminate more than 3 million gallons of water. A few drops of some synthetic organic chemicals found in products used in industry, homes and businesses can contaminate enough water to fill a swimming pool.
What can you, the individual do about this potential threat to our water supply?
We can find ways to cut down our use of chemicals whenever possible, (copies of a list of alternative household products are available at the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute. When using chemicals only use what you need to do the job, a case of “overkill” can cause contamination.
Buy only what you need and estimate amounts before buying. This reduces storage problems and saves you money
Mix only what you need for a given job.
Avoid spills. Be extremely careful in the transportation and transfer of chemicals. Collect and reuse any spilled chemicals.
Remember chemical rinses are hazardous waste. They should be put back in the tank and used up.
Check for floor drains near chemicals. If you have one, either seal it or obtain a permit from the Water Compliance Unit of Connecticuts Department of Environmental Protection.
Store all chemicals in protected areas. Your storage area should be secured, well ventilated, leak proof, and if at all possible fireproof.
Never store chemicals outdoors. Exposure to the elements could cause chemicals to be carried off into ground or surface waters.
Label stored chemicals clearly, to avoid a mistake in the future. Never reuse chemical containers to store a different product.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all phases of product handling. This includes instructions for disposing of containers. If a products’s label lacks specific information, call your supplier for instructions.
DON’T POLLUTE! Watch out for any suspicious dumping or other potential problems in your neighborhood and town. You can also get involved in local hazardous waste collection day.
EDUCATION IS THE ANSWER, THE MORE
KNOW AND INFORM FRIENDS AND FAMILY THE SAFER OUR SUPPLY OF WATER WILL BE.