It is good to drink water from a river

It is good to drink water from a river

Drinking river water can be considered a common practice in certain situations, mainly in natural environments or in certain emergency cases in which there is no access to drinking water. However, it must be taken into account that consuming river water may carry certain risks associated with it.

The water that circulates through rivers usually contains a variety of microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites and viruses, which can end up causing a series of diseases in humans. The origin of these microorganisms is very diverse; they can come from wastewater, chemical contaminants present in the water or animal waste.


How do I know if I can drink river water?

When determining whether or not you can drink river water, a careful evaluation of several factors needs to be made. Some of the most common guidelines to follow to carry out this evaluation are:

  • Investigate the water source: It is necessary to seek information about whether there has been any pollution problem in the past in said river, if there are industrial or agricultural activities nearby that could affect the quality of the water.
  • Observe the appearance of the water: Water suitable for human consumption is usually clear and without visible sediments. If the color of the water is cloudy, contains suspended particles or appears to be contaminated.
  • Take into account the environment: It is necessary to examine the area closest to the river. If there are obvious signs of contamination, it is highly likely that the water is contaminated and is not suitable for consumption.
  • Carrying out tests: If you have access to water testing kits or laboratory services, it is recommended to perform tests that allow you to know if there is the presence of bacteria, parasites, heavy metals or other chemical contaminants.
  • Boil, purify, filter: If you have doubts about the quality of your water but need to drink it, you can use a few different methods. You can boil the water for at least a minute to eliminate possible microorganisms found in the water. You can also use water filters, bottles with filters and the like that eliminate bacteria and parasites.


Consequences of drinking river water

Drinking river water without precautions can cause negative consequences. Some of the possible consequences are:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases: In those where the water contains bacteria, parasites or viruses, it can cause diseases such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, among others.
  • Bacterial infections: Some bacteria such as Escherichia coli, when present in water, can cause serious infections in the gastrointestinal tract, causing symptoms such as fever, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  • Waterborne diseases: Water can contain microorganisms, responsible for causing diseases such as giardiasis, typhoid fever or cryptosporidiosis.
  • Chemical pollutants: Some rivers are exposed to chemical pollutants, such as pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals or industrial chemicals, which can have harmful health effects. Prolonged ingestion of these contaminants can cause problems in the nervous system, liver or kidneys.
  • Other problems: If we continually drink contaminated water, there is a higher risk that we will develop chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and developmental disorders.
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