Harmful Effects of Drinking Water on Children

Last Updated October 2019

Children are especially vulnerable to contaminants and toxic elements in our water since their metabolic system is still developing. While some appear in our water due to waste water runoff, additional contaminants are actually added to our water supply… on purpose.

drinking water effects

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Children may be more vulnerable to some environmental risks and contaminants than adults for several reasons. Compared to adults, children proportionately eat more food, drink more fluids, and breathe more air than adults. As a result, they are exposed to more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults. They’re also more vulnerable than adults to environmental hazards because their systems are still developing, often making them less able to process and eliminate toxins. 

Fewer than half of the synthetic chemicals that have been developed and released to the environment have been tested for potential human toxicity, and fewer still for their potential effects on children.  The issue with these chemicals is the runoff from industrial waste invades our water supply every day.


Contaminated Water

We already mentioned the alarming results of industrial chemical runoffs into our water supply that harm our children but unfortunately there are more.  One that is of major concern is pesticides.

Pesticides have one purpose – to kill.  Again, you have to take in the developmental risks to children that are associated with this poison.  Some of the most harmful side effects are developmental neurotoxicity, which contributes to neurological disorders. There are also concerns about the effect of pesticides on the endocrine system.  Scientists have concluded that these chemicals might be disrupting this system which is comprised of the glands and hormones that guide our development, growth, reproduction and behavior.  Disruption of the endocrine system may also result in reproductive disorders, birth defects, immune suppression, and other harmful effects.


Manganese is a mineral that’s naturally found in rock and soil. It is also unnaturally found in our drinking water. In addition to changing the color, odor and taste of water, it stains everything it comes in contact with. The U.S. EPA Secondary Drinking Water Regulations recommend a limit of 0.05 mg/l manganese because of the staining which may be caused. Staining? That’s their only concern?

Exposure to manganese has shown to be highly toxicity to the nervous system, producing a syndrome that resembles Parkinson’s disease. Young children absorb more manganese than older age groups but excrete less, so there’s an accumulation effect to their exposure. That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women and children to have access to clean drinking water every day.

According to Kristie Lenog, MD, A recent study carried out in Quebec, revealed that too much manganese in drinking water is harmful to children and can jeopardize their brain health and long-term intelligence.


Over exposure to fluoride isn’t just an isolated incident with water. Remember, this water is also used in processing the food we eat and the beverages we drink. The cumulative effect of over exposure can lead to poisoning.

In a recent article in the Journal NeuroToxicology, a research team led by Roger D. Masters, Dartmouth College Research Professor and Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus, reports evidence that public drinking water treated with sodium silicofluoride or fluosilicic acid, known as silicofluorides (SiFs), is linked to higher uptake of lead in children. This high level of lead toxicity produces behavioral problems due to the effects of lead on brain chemistry and the interruption of neurotransmitters.

Additionally, Professor Roger Masters, an Australian researcher had done extensive studies and has found that there is a link between Sif toxicity in water and violent crime, substance abuse and learning disabilities.


Dental fluorosis or mottling of tooth enamel is a developmental disease caused by over exposure to fluoride during stages of tooth development and its effects are permanent. Once you have it, you have it for life, and you can’t diminish its appearance which can range from white streaks on your teeth to severe discoloration and brown markings. The appearance of the stains and spots can even worsen and get darker over time.

According to the Center for Disease Control, children 8 and younger who are exposed to fluoride are at the highest risk for developing fluorosis because this is when their permanent teeth are forming under the gums.


Children and fetuses are the most susceptible to the debilitating effects of lead in the water.

Lead usually seeps into your drinking water through your plumbing. Some sources are corroded plumbing fixtures, lead pipes, soldered connections, metal faucets and fixtures and well pumps. Plumbing materials aren’t the only source of contamination. Over exposure to lead is also a result of contaminated air, water, soil, food, and consumer products.

Symptoms of lead poisoning include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death. Lead poisoning in children leads to learning and behavioral problems, brain and kidney damage, seizures, lowered IQ, low birth rate and anemia. The damage from lead poisoning is irreversible.

You can’t eliminate lead from your water, so the CDC suggests that you eliminate your exposure to lead in drinking water by consuming only bottled water or water from a filtration system. The problem is, bottled water is not contaminant free and neither is filtered water. Besides, it’s expensive!

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