Once kids reach school age, cognition problems, including lower IQ and ADHD-like symptoms start to show up. Lead exposure has been linked to physical problems, such as anemia, kidney dysfunction and high blood pressure, as well as behavioral problems, including aggressive behavior and problems with the criminal justice system.We should also note that in these studies of contamination, researchers focused only on lead contamination. The levels of other toxins such as mercury, arsenic, and commercial and household chemical contamination could potentially make the water in these areas and others far more toxic than this set of data indicates. Complicating matters further is the fact that testing children for lead contamination typically falls on states and municipalities, and that funding is drying up quickly. In short, states not only lack the funds to repair their aging water infrastructure, but they also lack the necessary funds to study the negative effects of that aging water delivery system on the public. While the widespread contamination should raise alarm bells for every American, what might be even more terrifying is the fact that analysts are predicting that in a few decades, we’ll be lucky if we can even afford to drink contaminated water. According to a new report from Michigan State University (MSU), a variety of compounding factors in the United States could easily push large portions of the population out of the financial range to even afford water in the future. From the MSU report: A variety of pressures ranging from climate change, to sanitation and water quality, to infrastructure upgrades, are placing increasing strain on water prices. Estimates of the cost to replace aging infrastructure in the United States alone project over $1 trillion dollars are needed in the next 25 years to replace systems built circa World War II, which could triple the cost of household water bills… Over the next few decades, water prices are anticipated to increase to four times current levels. Prices could go higher if cities look to private providers for water services, who have a tendency to charge higher rates than public providers. These pressures on water systems, combined with the fact that water is a vital necessity to sustain life, place this issue at the forefront of 21st century infrastructure challenges. While studies have found that Americans are willing to pay more to maintain and ensure access to water resources, this willingness to pay may conflict with their fundamental ability to pay for water. The report notes that water prices across the country have risen by about 41 percent since 2010, and if this particular trend continues, 35.6 percent of American households will not be able to afford water services within the next five years. In short, the water affordability crisis is not something that is a few decades off, or even a single decade off: More than 40 million American citizens could find themselves unable to afford water in the next five years if both stagnating incomes and increasing water prices stay on their current trajectories. These problems are very real, and they are problems that are generally not gaining very much attention. While the water contamination crisis will occasionally steal a headline or two, virtually no attention has been paid to the fact that we’re pricing a third of United States citizens out of the water market. Resource scarcity breeds conflict. That’s been true throughout human history. And when we’re talking about something like water — the single most important thing to sustain life — the looming scarcity should be a top concern for every American citizen.