Failing Septic Systems and Your Health

March 6, 2017

How Failing Septic Systems Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

One third of the population in the US uses septic systems. This amounts to 1 trillion gallons of waste per year being disposed of below the ground’s surface. Failing septic systems, therefore, can have a great impact on human health.  And that’s the main reason for septic systems! To maintain our health by removing harmful disease-causing bacteria.

Failing septic systems can have a number of serious impacts on the human health as inadequately treated sewage can poison our drinking water and therefore the diseases it causes are transferred directly and immediately to people.

However, there are other threatening elements in a failing septic system, such as nutrients that can cause serious health issues. Nitrate is one of these nutrients that can have severe repercussions on health of infants – when introduced to the infant’s system it interferes with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, resulting in “blue baby” syndrome (or methemoglobinemia).

hazardous drinking water

Among the disease that can be caused by this tainted drinking water are dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid fever, and acute gastrointestinal illness.

Failing septic systems not only contaminate groundwater but also leak contaminates into coastal waters. There is a whole handful of issues that can result from this. From excessive plant growth from the introduction of nitrogen and phosphorous. This over growth will then block sunlight and create abnormal amounts of shade, which ends up killing beneficial plants. And as we all know how linked, and fragile ecosystems can be, the animals that need these beneficial plants to survive also began to disappear. Too much algae also creates too much oxygen, which may kill other sea life.

contaminated water

Not only does an over growth of these plants make it less enjoyable to swim, but if swimming in these contaminated waters one can contract a variety of diseases. This could be anything from dysentery and hepatitis to ear and eye infections.

What’s more, is that our seafood gets contaminated! Like oyster shooters? Then maintain that septic system. One oyster can filter 25 gallons of water a day, and while contaminated water doesn’t affect the oyster, if you eat it…it will.

Inadequately treated sewage can shut down beaches and commercially important shellfish beds and is the number one reported cause of groundwater contamination.

So, did we scare you enough to maintain that septic system? We certainly hope so.

failing septic system

Now that you’re ready to prevent problems, let us tell you some simple ways to do so:

  1. Regularly maintain and pump your septic system – no matter what kind of system you have (I/A, cesspool, or conventional), it needs to be done on the regularly.
  2. Water conservation! Practicing water conservation at home and at your business will help a lot.
  3. Redirect surface water flow away from your systems leach field.
  4. Place a buffer of greenbelt between your leach filed and the shoreline.
  5. Replace your septic system when, and if, necessary.
  6. Construct new septic systems as far away from the shoreline as possible.

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