Antibiotics. Penicillin. Vaccines.
We may feel these things have always existed, but they haven’t been around that long. These are advances in medicine we owe scientists from the 19th century—breakthroughs that made our lives easier and life spans longer.
But another invention that’s equally important to the health of humanity, but so deeply ingrained in our daily lives that people almost ignore it, is plumbing.
Before Plumbing Was Invented
Centuries ago, outbreaks of dysentery, cholera and other such diseases occurred repeatedly partly because of inefficient plumbing system and a lack of safe public water and wastewater management.
These caused the deaths of millions of people, young and old, worldwide. It may paint a very grim picture, but it powerfully illustrates how essential plumbing and sanitation is.
With the invention and development in plumbing and safe sewage disposal, deaths from such diseases significantly decreased.
How Contamination Could Happen Today
Today, threats like these are largely nonexistent especially in developed countries like Australia because of the existence of better infrastructure and facilities.
But that doesn’t mean contamination that can lead to water-borne diseases cannot happen in modern-day homes and establishments.
A situation where wastewater can contaminate your water supply with bacteria is called a cross connection. It happens when there is backpressure and back siphonage.
Backpressure occurs when the downstream pressure is greater than the supply pressure. When this happens, downstream water (which might be contaminated) could be forced back up to your water supply.
When there is a loss in pressure (like when a fire hydrant is in use, your water main breaks or when there is a drop in water pressure in the supply line), a vacuum is created. This vacuum can consequently suck contaminants into potable pipelines.
There are many places where cross connection can occur—bidets, older bath sinks and tubs, dishwashers and washing machines connected to drains without air gaps—just as there are many possible sources of contamination (toilets, garden hoses, swimming pools).
Although cross contamination is not common, it certainly is possible. When it does happen, the consequences to your health are usually severe.
Moulds thrive in an environment that is rich in organic material and moisture. In homes, it usually grow on roofs, clogged gutters, wallboards in bathrooms, basements, kitchens and other areas that are moist or has leaks that have not been fixed for awhile.
Both toxic and nontoxic moulds cause health problems in humans including asthma attacks (and the development of asthma), sinus infection, runny nose, sore throat, coughs, headaches and other respiratory problems. Moulds are also linked with fatigue and depression.
Improper Plumbing Installation And Negligence
Not all companies that offer plumbing services in Melbourne employ certified professionals. Thus, there might not be air gaps, vacuum breakers, double check valves, backwater valves and backflow preventers in your plumbing that would help prevent cross contamination, back siphonage and wastewater backup.
Or if there are, they might be defective and you are unaware that it needs to be replaced.
There are many things to consider when it comes to plumbing (if you are occupying the lowest residence on a sewage line, if your septic system and hot water heater can handle add-ons and changes when renovating your home, etc). But only certified professional plumbers in Melbourne would completely know what they are.
Lead has been used in plumbing for centuries. However, studies have proven that it is hazardous and can lead to poisoning. It is important to have your pipes, fittings and fixtures checked for lead to make sure that it is not in your drinking water.
Have you been regularly repairing pinhole leaks in your copper pipes? Have you noticed any blue stains in your tubs and sinks?
If you have, then it means your supply of water has a low pH. When acidic water flows through pipes, lines and taps, it can dissolve the metal (like copper and lead) used in your plumbing and can mix with your drinking water.
Over time, it can lead to gastrointestinal disorders, liver or kidney damage, and increased risk of Type-1 diabetes.
Plumbing and Health Go Hand In Hand
There is an intimate link binding plumbing with public health, of that there is no question. It’s one of the contributing factors that help us maintain good health, protecting the water supplied to our homes from pathogens and contaminants.
However, no system is absolutely safe from failure. It is important we maintain our plumbing system. Don’t take it for granted.
If you need help in maintaining your plumbing, repairing leaks or inspecting your pipes for lead, give us a call at 03 9636 0156. We’ll be happy to help and answer all your plumbing questions and concerns.