Environmental and Health Impacts From Septic Tanks

septic tank

A properly installed, sited and maintained home sewage treatment system should not have a negative effect on water quality. In fact, a home sewage treatment system can be a more eco-friendly alternative to public sewage treatment plants that may use harsh chemicals to treat wastewater. However, when you’re dealing with a failing septic system, that’s when it becomes hazardous. Here is how a failing home sewage treatment system can impact the environment and your health.

Water quality

Aquatic ecosystems provide support for microbial, plant and animal life. If they are polluted with chemicals and harmful substances, the whole process of regulating water quality is interrupted. When your home sewage treatment system is failing, it can begin to discharge directly into the groundwater or surface water before the waste is treated. If it’s close to a body of water, it may enter the ecosystem and negatively impact the quality with its untreated pathogens, nutrients and other harmful substances.

Pathogens and excess nutrients

Pathogens can cause illnesses for recreational swimming areas and hazards to humans and pets. Unabsorbed phosphorus travels into groundwater and ends up in other bodies of water  like lakes and rivers. Freshwater bodies are very vulnerable to phosphorus pollution. 

Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can cause an overgrowth of algae or cyanobacteria in a short period of time, triggering algae blooms. The overgrowth of algae consumes oxygen and blocks sunlight from underwater plants. When the algae eventually die, the oxygen in the water is consumed. This can cause fish and other aquatic organisms to die and create regional dead zones.

Health of residents

If a home sewage treatment system that is located near a water well is not functioning properly, contaminates from the effluent can find its way into the drinking water and spread serious diseases. The bacteria, viruses, and protozoa from the wastewater can cause diseases like typhoid, gastrointestinal illness, hepatitis A and cholera. 

Contamination of the water supply also puts infants especially at risk. Wastewater has lots of nitrogen from the urine, food waste, feces and cleaning compounds. When consumed, these nitrates can result in methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome) in infants. This condition reduces the ability of blood in infants to carry oxygen. If this condition is not treated in good time, it can result in the death of the affected infant.

Contact Supeck Septic Services

Proper maintenance and regular inspection of your septic system will ensure that it functions properly and protects our environment. As Northeast Ohio’s largest septic provider, we offer maintenance plans to help keep you up to date on your system’s needs. Give Supeck Septic Services a call at (888)725-0209.