Report Shows Clean Water Makes You Smart

Researchers from the University of New Mexico at Albequerque have recently discovered an inverse correlation between infectious disease and IQ, suggesting that societies that have greater instances of disease are, on average, less intelligent.

At first glance this seems hardly surprising. Many infectious diseases are caused by contaminated water which is found in high quantities in developing countries. Water contamination in these areas may be attributed to lower income levels and fewer educational opportunities than those that exist in developed nations. Of course with fewer educational opportunities, a high level of intelligence is unlikely.

Interestingly, however, the report shows that these factors – income and education – among others that were tested, have very little influence on one’s  intelligence. According to the data, most countries with poor water quality and sanitation have lower average national IQ levels, suggesting that waterborne illness plays a role in brain development.  The reason for this is that the energy used to fight disease is diverted from the development of the brain.

The moral of the study: clean water is not only essential to good health. It makes you smarter! This finding is just as critical to developed nations as it is to poor countries, since our water is often contaminated by the chemicals used to prevent waterborne illness. For example, PFOA, the chemical used to coat nonstick cookware, has been found in several water supplies and is  linked to ADHD – a disorder, which, while not classified as a learning disability, often affects a child’s ability to learn. We must all, not only do our part to help those in developing nations gain access to clean water, but also ensure that we have access to uncontaminated water resources.

Teflon in Drinking Water linked to ADHD

PFOA, also known as Teflon, is a chemical found in the coating of nonstick cookware.

Perfluoroocatnoic Acid (PFOA), better known as Teflon – the commercial brand name given to DuPont’s version of it – is a chemical used in various products that have unique characteristics like nonstick properties and chemical and heat resistance.  If you cook with nonstick pots and pans, it is likely that PFOA is the chemical used as coating on the inside. While this chemical makes our lives easier in the kitchen by eliminating the need for steel wool pads along with the vigorous scrubbing and scouring of pans after a good meal, it is known to be carcinogenic to the human body. In fact, a recent study found that exposure to PFOA at elevated levels is linked to increased incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.

PFOA was recently found at low levels in public drinking water supplies throughout New Jersey, including some near the DuPont Chamber Works site in Carney’s Point. The Drinking Water Quality Institute is expected to issue a draft recommendation for the maximum allowable level of the contaminant by the end of the year. In the meantime, DuPont will also attempt to “phase out” the use of this chemical in its products by the year 2015, according to its website:

“Studies have shown very low levels of PFOA and other perfluorinated compounds (PFC’s) in the environment and in the blood of the general population. Questions about this, as well as customer interest in product alternatives, have led DuPont to commit to phase out the use and production of PFOA by 2015 or earlier, if possible, and to develop new products and processes that are more environmentally sustainable.”

Luckily (and somewhat ironically), DuPont also manufactures a variety of water filters, should PFOA ever leak into your water supply. Perhaps Filters Fast will add DuPont to its product list someday…