Drinking water is as essential as sunlight. Just like extreme contact with sunlight can be toxic to all living things on Earth (due to solar flares or excessive voluntary exposure to ultra violet radiation), water can be toxic for living things as well. Toxic chemicals in the drinking water are a major concern in the United States and other parts of the world. Human beings have no control over the occurrence of solar flares, but they can certainly control the toxicity in water. Unfortunately, corporate greed and lack of empathy for residential citizens have contributed to the insane carelessness that led to the dumping of toxic waste into the environment.
Multimedia resources are a great way to share information about water toxicity and other environmental concerns because they are just as educational as are they are diverse. When reviewing resources that give in-depth information about the quality of drinking water, reactions can range from initial fear to feelings of empowerment. The purpose of this review is to two-fold. First, to provide a summary of three different types of multimedia documents which teach valuable lessons about ground water. One resource is a diagram that shows various types of pollutants. The second source is a colored, U.S. map that shows the sources of pollutants for each state. The third source is a video entitled, “Protecting Americans from Danger in the Drinking Water”. Finally, the second aim is to give an explanation about how they might directly and indirectly affect an audience.
The map shows (in great detail) the sources of toxicity of ground water nationwide. Using an easy-to-understand legend of colors and shapes, little symbols are placed in various locations on the map. For instance, in the state of Texas, the sources of contamination include, “wastes from well drilling, harbor dredging and excavation for drainage systems” (Unknown1, 2014). Texas residence must also be concerned about “saltwater intrusion, irrigation return waters and high levels of minerals or other dissolved solids in ground water.” (Unknown1, 2014). It does not show the effects of the contamination sources such as the average numbers of birth defects or disease associated with the contamination sources.
The diagram is very informative in terms of giving the basic sources of water pollution. Examples include indirect pollution such as acid rain, landfill leaching and faulty sewers and direct pollution from industrial and agricultural waste. Arrows indicate the increase in metals and sediments as the water level decreases from evapotranspiration. As water evaporates, the diagram indicates that the concentration of acids, salts, chemicals, pesticides, metals and pathogens increase because arrows point upward (Unknown2, 2014). There is no quantitative data provided such as the amount of contaminants per gallon of water or parts-per-million of waste in the water compared to what is acceptable for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Lastly, this diagram is very general in that it does not share a geographical location for which these pollutants are most prevalent.
The video explains a problem with polluted drinking water nationwide. However, to show the severity of the issue, it cites the example of PG&E contaminating the water in Hinkley California. The narrator referenced a very well-known movie in which Julia Roberts received an Academy Award for the portrayal of activist Erin Brockovich. The promise to launch an aggressive clean-up effort by PG&E has not been honored (Protecting Americans From Danger in the Drinking Water | PBS NewsHour, n.d.). Since Erin Brockovich launched her crusade to hold them accountable, she said (in an interview) that there are nationwide cancer statistics caused by hexavalent chromium or other forms of industrial waste. In other words, the town of Hinkley is not the only area in the U.S. that is burdened by the poor quality of drinking water. Lastly, it must be mentioned that a representative of PG&E gave a very plastic and inconceivable explanation for the slow and still-incomplete cleaning job that was promised to the victims in the town.
The initial effect of the pdf resources is to trigger curiosity and the need for further research. The first thing that the eyes naturally do is scan the state on the map in which the viewer lives. The diagram stimulates the desire to begin Google searching the keywords in the image. The video triggers anger and a sense of hopelessness. The reason is because the desire to punish a big corporation is soon followed by the realization that they have not kept their promise, yet they are still an operating and profiting business. After the emotional reaction subsides, the empowerment begins to brew. The final direct affect is to become armed with knowledge about the chemicals from the diagram, sources of pollution from the map and hexavalent chromium to begin sharing the information with loved ones. Lastly, another direct affect is to stop drinking tap water.
The indirect effects are likely that consumers are paying a heavy price for the waste and poor water quality. The increased cost for pure, bottled drinking water is imposed on the citizens who have a right to rely on clean tap water. Secondly, consumers are vulnerable to mistreatment by health insurance companies that might not want to cover pre-existing conditions caused by poor water quality. If they do provide coverage for treatment and medications, tax payers can be slapped with higher premiums and copayments as a result of treatments for preventable illnesses.
- Protecting Americans From Danger in the Drinking Water | PBS NewsHour [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science-jan-june13-taintedwater_03-13/
- Unknown1 (2014). Groundwater Pollution in the United States. Infobase Learning.