If you drink untreated water — and you shouldn’t — this is what you’re drinking
In 1854, a London anesthesiologist and amateur sleuth made a history-changing discovery about the link between contaminated water and human disease.
Several years before Louis Pasteur’s groundbreaking experiments that established what came to be called germ theory, Dr. John Snow thought he’d figured out why there were so many cholera cases in a central London neighborhood now known as Soho.
The prevailing belief at the time was that cholera was caused by miasma — bad air.
Snow had another idea.
He persuaded civic officials to remove the handle from the Broad Street pump, a water source for the neighboring businesses and residents.
Over a century and a half later, it appears some in modern society want the Broad Street pump handle back.
The argument: It tastes better.
But while the notion of crystal clear water bubbling up from a pristine spring sounds enticing, in reality there can be risks.
“When water is untreated, there is more uncertainty regarding what’s in it — and it may contain harmful germs,” explained Vincent Hill, chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s waterborne disease prevention branch.
Think of them as nature’s additives.