Water quality problems are not only restricted to areas of the developing world, even the most developed and commercially advanced societies can have issues. The UK is a prime example. Throughout recent history areas of the United Kingdom, particularly those that are prone to flooding, have had to deal with water contamination problems. Consequently, to re-establish potability, local water authorities resort to aggressive and questionable purification methods.
Common purification chemicals include chlorine, fluorosilicic acid, Aluminium sulphate, calcium hydroxide and sodium silicofluoride. Although there are filtration processes in place to remove these chemicals, chemical analyses have shown that residual amounts remain. While not present in acutely toxic concentrations the concern is that long term consumption of water containing these small amounts can create chronic health problems.
The UK is a very well established society but it's age may also be a key factor in these water issues. The distribution network in many areas date back to the 19th Century. Lead pipes have been shown to leach trace amounts of lead into the water supply leading to an increase in patients presenting with symptoms of heavy metal poisoning.
Independent studies have shown that UK municipal water supplies contain over 300 man-made chemicals. Local water companies only test for around 20 chemicals.
A study done by Brunel University found that many municipal water supplies in the UK contain small amounts of estrogen, most likely as a result of millions of women being on the contraceptive pill and those receiving hormone replacement therapy. The study went on to make correlations between these findings and the increasing incidence of testicular dysgenesis and male infertility.
As the developing world deals with their own water problems they should be mindful of the issues that the established societies have. Granted those communities who are living on a gallon of water per individual per week would not as much as flinch at water containing estrogen. But those larger towns that are growing and evolving their water processing systems, should ensure that their infrastructure is set up to avoid the problems currently being experienced in the UK.