By Ailish Lalor
Last week, staff from the City Water Project tested several water samples from The Hague for contaminants. We had expected to find traces of bacteria, chlorine, or even sewage contamination — but what we found was much worse.
Dihydrogen monoxide (also known as hydric acid) is extremely dangerous when consumed at high doses. The first aspect we need to discuss is its impact on the environment. It is a major component of acid rain, which contributes to the destruction of forests and creates biologically dead lakes. It’s also one of the gases responsible for climate change, making up 1-5 percent of the atmosphere. It can damage landscapes through erosion of valleys, gorges, and cliffs, leading to deadly landslides. Its presence has been linked to infrastructure collapsing due to corroded, degraded metals. It always causes electrical failures if it gets near electrical components.
Dihydrogen monoxide can also be very dangerous to humans. In vapor form, it causes blisters and severe burns to human skin. It causes suffocation if inhaled. Forensic pathologists often detect its presence in dead bodies.
But we cannot avoid this substance, as it is used in industry as a solvent and coolant, for food processing, in nuclear power plants, in the production of paper, as a fire retardant, in the production of styrofoam, in the distribution of pesticides (even washing won’t get rid of this chemical!), in the treatment of sewage and drinking water, and as an ingredient in fast food and other processed foods.
Worried? Now that we have your attention, let’s reveal that dihydrogen monoxide is just another name for H20. But while water itself may not be dangerous, bad water quality can be life threatening. The City Water Project is working to improve it all around the world. If you are a resident of The Hague, then you can help us by filling out this survey (available in English, Dutch, Turkish, Arabic and Spanish)