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Memory and Cognition at Risk: The Alarming Effects of Water Contamination

Water, the essence of life, sustains agriculture and underpins public health, yet, contamination, an invisible but potent adversary, imperils its purity.

Today, the United States faces a significant challenge with water contamination, primarily spotlighted by the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or “forever chemicals.”

These contaminants have become a focal point of environmental regulatory efforts. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposed new limits targeting six notorious PFAS chemicals. These include PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX,.

Considering the way water contamination can affect memory, these regulations are critical. In this article, let us explore how this morbid connection happens and what can be done about it.

Connecting Contaminants With Memory and Cognitive Decline

Numerous studies investigating disease spread reveal a worrying connection between polluted water and memory problems. These studies look at various populations around the world and find a shared theme: harmful substances in the water are damaging people’s mental functions.

Research by Bondy and Campbell revealed a correlation between aluminum levels in drinking water and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This association is further corroborated by laboratory data from animal studies exposed to aluminum levels in drinking water that mirror some residential supplies.

Other studies have noted that memory and attention deficits are associated with high manganese levels in groundwater, particularly in Southeast Asian countries.

In the U.S., the contaminated water at the Marine Base “Camp Lejeune” showcased a myriad of neurobehavioral effects. These include memory problems, insomnia, lack of concentration, anxiety, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.

The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit is but one instance of a depressing trend of government negligence. Similarly, the Flint, Michigan, water situation has also affected countless American lives. There are simply too many instances of contamination, considering the severe health effects they have.

What Is Being Done About Water Contamination?

The effects of water contamination on memory and health aren’t going unnoticed by the government and health organizations.

TorHoerman Law states that the U.S. government has indeed recognized the link between Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water and certain health conditions. But besides recognizing and offering settlement amounts, what is really being done?

Well, in recent times, the Biden-Harris Administration has initiated actions to address PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) pollution. These actions include a $9 billion investment over five years to help communities affected by PFAS contaminants.

The White House also mentioned that PFAS clean-up efforts are being intensified, with site investigations and remedial actions initiated at numerous installations and facilities.

In other areas, scientists are constantly researching and working on ways to destroy PFAS chemicals. Some of these methods include combining them with sodium hydroxide at low heat.

What Can People Do to Stay Away From Contaminated Water?

Ensuring access to clean water and avoiding contamination is critical for health and well-being. Here are a few strategies civilians and residents can employ.

1. Regular Testing

Regular testing of water sources is essential, especially if the water comes from a private well or a local source that is not regulated by government standards. These days, testing kits are easily available for purchase and are also straightforward to use.

2. Education and Awareness

Understanding the sources of water contamination and the potential health risks associated with them is the first step. Residents should be informed about the types of contaminants that can affect water, such as bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, and industrial chemicals.

3. Advocacy for Infrastructure

Supporting and advocating for improved water infrastructure can lead to long-term solutions. This includes proper sewage treatment, maintenance of water pipes, and investment in modern filtration facilities.

4. Community Monitoring

Communities can organize to monitor local water bodies for illegal dumping or spills and report any suspicious activity to authorities. Community members can be trained to recognize signs of water contamination, such as changes in color, odor, or fish die-offs in local water bodies.

5. Boiling Water

In situations where contamination is suspected, boiling water for at least one minute can kill most types of pathogens. The water should reach a rolling boil where large bubbles are continuously breaking the surface. The temperature at this stage is typically around 100°C, which is the temperature required to kill most pathogens.


The discourse surrounding the link between water contamination and memory and cognitive decline reveals a reality that America cannot afford to overlook. The government’s role transcends mere acknowledgment of the crisis. While settlements may offer temporary relief, they do not address the underlying issue.

The roadmap towards cleaner waters and healthier people entails stringent regulatory frameworks, substantial investments in water infrastructure, and an unwavering commitment to environmental justice. Thankfully, it does appear that the Biden-Harris administration is taking water and PFAS contamination seriously.

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