15 Dangerous Diseases Caused by Contaminated Drinking Water

Updated October 5th, 2023

A constant supply of clean drinking water is vital for every household. However, millions of people still lack access to this invaluable resource. As a result, some people have to use and consume water that contains dangerous contaminants. That could explain why more than 3.4 million people die from waterborne diseases every year.

Drinking polluted water exposes people to specific water contaminants that could lead to certain waterborne diseases. Water-related illnesses include waterborne diseases that are caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. Some of these sicknesses also arise from the toxins produced by harmful algae and cyanobacteria. Other primary sources include chemicals from industrial and manufacturing facilities, agricultural and farming practices, human activities, and many more.

Humans may become exposed to these pollutants through different pathways, including drinking water, recreational waters, and fish and shellfish. What’s even more frightening is that almost all of the contaminants potentially present in our drinking water are invisible to the human eyes. You might go years before realizing that a problem exists. Yet, these contaminants are responsible for some of the most aggressive forms of waterborne diseases plaguing our health.

In this article, we will cover 15 dangerous diseases caused by contaminated drinking water, their symptoms, causes, and what you can do to prevent them. Let’s get started.

Where do Water Contaminants come From?

Water contaminants come from many different places. However, the primary sources are human and animal waste, and agricultural activities, including the use of fertilizers, and so on. Runoff and flooding resulting from unexpected increases in hurricane rainfall, extreme precipitation, and storm surge also increase the risks of contamination.

Water contamination occurs when agents of water-related illness and nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, leach from urban, residential, and agricultural areas into surface waters, groundwater, and coastal waters. Your drinking water can also become contaminated through chemical runoff from manufacturing and industrial factories. There’s also the naturally-occurring pathogens and heavy metals that can enter groundwater sources. People who get their water from public or private wells are more susceptible to being exposed to pathogens.

15 Waterborne Diseases Caused by Water Contamination

Waterborne diseases are easily transmitted when you use contaminated water for various purposes like drinking, making ice, washing uncooked fruits and vegetables, and cleaning. Because of this, you must know the different diseases and the level of danger they pose.

Here are 15 waterborne diseases caused by water contamination:

1. Salmonellosis

People usually get infected with salmonella after ingesting food or drinking water contaminated with feces. When domestic or wild animals leave their feces in or near water surfaces such as rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, etc., the salmonella virus can then enter private wells, water tanks, or any other water supplies, especially after a flood.

The harmful waste can then combine with the water from various media, including polluted storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, and others. Besides, the disease can come from under cooked meat, egg products, fruits and vegetables, and other sorts of contaminated water and food.

The most common symptoms of salmonellosis include vomiting, fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dehydration (common in infants), and others. However, sometimes individuals can be infected without showing any signs.

2. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the liver. You can contract the disease by drinking water that contains the hepatitis A virus (HAV) or by coming in close contact with someone who has the infection. Washing and eating foods prepared with contaminated water can also expose you to the disease. People who live in areas that have poor sanitation and hygiene management are more at risk of being exposed to the virus.

Some symptoms of Hepatitis A include abdominal pain, depression, nausea, fatigue, weight loss, jaundice, fever, loss of appetite, clay-colored bowel movements, and others. The infection usually subsides in a few weeks, but it can become severe and last for several months.

3. Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis, AKA ‘crypto’, is an infection that targets the intestines. The microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium causes the disease. This organism lives in the bowel and is present in the feces of infected humans and domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, cats, and dogs. The infection usually spreads by ingesting contaminated food or water, or even by swimming and immersing in contaminated water.

People infected with crypto usually experience symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, loss of appetite, etc. Some people infected with the virus may not develop any symptoms.

4. Typhoid

Typhoid is a life-threatening bacterial infection distinguished by acute intestinal ulceration and infection. The bacteria responsible for this dreadful infection is called Salmonella Typhi. It is the same type of bacteria found in some eggs and chicken. The infection is more commonly known as food poisoning or salmonella poisoning. It usually spreads when people consume contaminated water or food washed with contaminated water. A person suffering from typhoid can transfer harmful bacteria to their bloodstream and intestinal tract.

Some common symptoms of typhoid include persistent fevers (as high as 103° to 104° F, or 39° to 40° C), weakness, headache, loss of appetite, stomach pains, rashes or red spots, muscle aches, and sweating. Typhoid affects approximately 12 million people across the world every year.

5. Cholera

Cholera is an infection that primarily affects the small intestine. The bacterium responsible for this disease is known as the Vibrio Chloerae. The virus gets transmitted through the ingestion of water that contains traces of feces. When the untreated water goes through the sewage in waterways, it can affect the domestic water supply.

People affected by Cholera may experience symptoms, including dehydration, nausea, vomiting (lasting up to one hour for severe cases), profuse diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and headaches. If not treated correctly or on time, Cholera can cause death in some rare cases.

6. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the most common diseases caused by water contamination. It manifests as a result of intestinal infection or food poisoning by drinking water contaminated with pathogens from animal or human waste. In most cases, it occurs due to the presence of waterborne bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. The disease usually results in the passage of loose, watery stools that can cause dehydration (loss of electrolytes) and death in young children and infants.

7. Dysentery

Dysentery is a waterborne disease characterized by severe diarrhea, as well as blood or mucus in the stool. It mainly affects the intestines and spreads through poor hygiene. It can also be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites in unsafe food and drinking water, and by people coming into contact with fecal matter. People with dysentery usually experience common symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea, dehydration, stomach cramps, and pain, among others.

8. Amoebiasis (Traveler’s Diarrhea)

If you like to travel, you’ve likely heard about a common waterborne disease that affects millions of travelers every year. It’s called Traveler’s Diarrhea (also known as Aztec Two-Step or Montezuma’s Revenge). This disease generally occurs within the first week of traveling but might happen at any time along the journey. Heck, it can even arise after returning home. Eighty percent of Traveler’s Diarrhea occurs because of bacterial enteropathogens, particularly the amoeba protozoa. It usually infects the large intestine as well as the liver. Amoebiasis symptoms include mild or severe diarrhea with mucus and blood. The infection spreads through the consumption of water contaminated by sewage, poor hygiene, and the presence of flies.

9. Cancer

Drinking water polluted with chemicals like methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and chlorinated solvents increase the risks of getting cancer when one consumes water from such sources. The substances are carcinogenic, meaning that they can damage the DNA and cause cancer tumors. The disease is associated with hefty medical costs, chronic pain, and even death. This deadly disease has claimed the lives of many people worldwide.

10. Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a condition that negatively affects the health of teeth and bones. This disease is usually the result of drinking ground or surface water with high concentrations of fluoride chemicals. The chemical naturally occurs in groundwater and affects millions of people across the globe.

11. Lead Poisoning

Lead can enter drinking water through old pipes and solders or through the discharge of toxic chemicals into water systems. Once ingested, the metal can cause lead poisoning in humans, one of the life-threatening diseases caused by water pollution. Children are especially vulnerable to this disease because of their body’s ability to deal with elevated levels of the metal. Lead poisoning can result in numerous health conditions such as anemia, problems with the reproductive system, and high blood pressure. It can also affect the kidneys and the nervous system.

12. Arsenicosis

When you consume water contaminated with arsenic, you put yourself at risk of contracting Arsenicosis. Arsenicosis is a condition caused by chronic consumption of drinking water with small amounts of arsenic. The chemical poisoning of this disease occurs over the long term. The chemical may cause problems with the bladder, kidney, lungs, and skin, and which may lead to cancer. Arsnenicosis affects millions of people worldwide who depend on arsenic-contaminated water.

13. Liver and Kidney Damage, and Neurological Problems

Drinking water contaminated with chemical pollutants can lead to some cases of liver and kidney damage. Chemical contaminants such as MTBE and chlorinated solvents are two of the main culprits. These pollutants are associated with the inflammation of the liver, liver failure, kidney failure, or the development of kidney stones. They can also aggravate other diseases that require the support of these organs. Long-term exposure to drinking water laced with chemical pollutants is also associated with some neurological problems such as ADHD.

14. Trachoma (Eye Infection)

Trachoma is an eye infection that occurs through pathogenic sanitation and hygiene caused by the limited availability of clean water. It mostly affects children and women. Besides, about six million people worldwide have developed blindness because of the disease.

15. Polio (Infantile Paralysis)

Polio is a highly lethal viral infection caused by the polio virus. The infection spreads through water contaminated with feces from an infected person. When the virus enters the bloodstream, it targets and destroys the nervous system, which results in extreme weakness. In most cases, it causes paralysis. People without a polio vaccination are at a higher risk of being infected by the virus. The symptoms include fever, seizures, headaches, and paralysis at a later stage.

How to Remove Water Contaminants From Your Tap Water

As you can see from the list above, many different diseases can affect your health if you drink contaminated water. Also, notice that the majority of the diseases highlighted are caused due to the presence of pathogens in drinking water. Apart from adequately disposing sewage and practicing good hygiene, one of the best ways to avoid these illnesses and ensure your health and wellbeing (and that of your loved ones) is only to drink and use safe and purified water. But how do you remove possible contaminants from your drinking water and make it entirely safe for use and consumption?

There are many cities and communities in America where waterborne diseases are rampant and deadly, and little to no knowledge about prevention is widely available. For over 20 years, Springwell Water Systems has strived to manufacture some of the best water filtration systems on the market to provide the purest and safest drinking water for families across the country.

UV water purification system

Our CF1 whole house filtration system combined with a UV water filter is the perfect solution to eliminate chemical pollutants and pathogens from your water supply. This system uses the highest quality catalytic coconut shell carbon and NSF-certified KDF media to target and remove contaminants like lead, arsenic, fluoride, chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, PFOA, PFAS PFOS, herbicides, haloacetic acids and more. It also comes with an optional UV filter that is proven to control microbiological issues in water, including bacteria, viruses, protozoans, E. coli, crypto, giardia lamblia, and many more. The UV system kills 99.9% of harmful pathogens that can cause dangerous diseases.

Furthermore, the CF1 combo system is easy to install and requires low maintenance. It also comes with a lifetime warranty that covers defects that occur during regular use, as well as a six-month money-back guarantee, in case you’re not completely satisfied with this particular system.

Take the CF1 for a test run today. If you need more information, please visit our website at www.springwellwater.com or contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable customer service agents. You’ll be happy that you did.


Fresh, clean drinking water is a vital resource for every household. However, the rampant pollution of many of our water sources causes an extreme shortage of clean water for millions of people. Regrettably, they have no other choice but to use and consume polluted drinking water. Drinking contaminated water can lead to a host of deadly waterborne diseases. But thankfully, Springwell Water Systems have manufactured a unique line of robust water filtration systems to help tackle these contaminants and keep you and your family safe and secure. Reach out to us today to learn more about our products to see how we can help clamp down to those dangerous water-related illnesses and pollutants.