Sina-cism: In crises from ancient Rome to Flint, it’s not only water that’s dirty

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When it comes to drinking water, almost everything we think we know turns out to be not quite so.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Americans spend more than $12 billion annually [estimates vary but this seems about right] on bottled water in the belief it is more healthful than tap water. In fact, they are paying hundreds of times more than necessary for a product no better than tap water, and contributing billions of plastic bottles to our environment.

[Editor’s note: See the effect on oceans with phenomena such as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” which is estimated to be 80 percent plastics and is harmful to sea life.]

For the last 30 years, thanks to a 1983 thesis by geochemist Jerome Nrigau, many have believed lead poisoning led to the fall of Rome. But a 2014 study of sediments from an ancient Roman port found that while lead levels were high, they were not responsible for the fall of the empire. Poor maintenance of aqueducts was a bigger factor.

And if we believe some pundits, the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where elevated lead has poisoned hundreds [some say thousands] is the product of corporate greed, political callousness and racism.

Water crises have as much to do with what -- and especially who -- is around the water as they do what's in it ...

Wikimedia Commons

Water crises have as much to do with what — and especially who — is around the water as they do what’s in it …

The harm is real, but the true causes are criminal negligence and bureaucratic ineptitude by local, state and federal officials.


One of Sinacola’s most-read: In Dudley, Muslims need not apply



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