Wildfires are Polluting Drinking Water far Dangerously than Expected, Study

With the rising global temperatures, the dry conditions of various regions have provided enough fuel for wildfires. From California to Australia, wildfires have been ravaging the planet, inflicting lasting damage on ecosystems. These wildfires are polluting drinking water far dangerously than thought, a study has found.

Over 58,000 fires burned through the United States in 2020, and 2021 is going to be an even drier year, creating favorable conditions for wildfires. These blazes contaminate entire drinking water systems with carcinogens, lasting for months after the fires.

The new study highlights critical issues that can affect the health of its surroundings profoundly, issues that households and businesses must identify after a wildfire.

Wildfires are Polluting Drinking Water far dangerously than Expected

These wildfires are polluting drinking water far dangerously than thought, a study has found | Image: Yevgeny Sofroneyev/TASS

Water contamination further reaches homes and pollutes the plumbing too. Apparently, wildfires have polluted drinking water distribution networks and building plumbing for over 240,000 people for the past four years.

When wildfires damage water distribution pipes, wells, and the plumbing in homes and other buildings, they can create immediate health risks. Unfortunately, most even don’t realize their water is unsafe until weeks to months after the fire.

Since 2017, multiple fires have rendered drinking water systems unsafe, including the Echo Mountain, Lionshead and Almeda fires in Oregon and the CZU Lighting Complex, Camp and Tubbs fires in California.

Short-term exposure to 26 parts per billion or more of benzene, a carcinogen, may cause a decrease in white blood cells that protect the body from infectious disease. Multiple fires have caused drinking water to exceed this harmful level.

To avert this crisis, it is of utmost importance to understand the toxic effects of wildfires on the water distribution system.

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