Common Water Contaminants

Water Hardness

What Exactly Is Water Hardness?

Water hardness is determined by how much calcium and magnesium are present in the water. Water is too hard when it has large amounts of dissolved calcium, magnesium and other minerals. It is the reason that you may feel that a residue has been left on your hands after you wash them.

How to Fix Hard Water if You Have It

A very simple thing you can do is purchase a water filtering pitcher. These pitchers are very inexpensive at around $20, and they can filter out the minerals as well as chlorine. This option may not be enough because you can only use it to remove minerals from your drinking water.

Another option is the faucet water filter that you attach directly to your faucet. This type of filter will make it easier for you to use while cooking, but it presents the same problem as the water filtering pitcher.


Bacteria In Drinking Water

Bacteria in drinking water have been an issue in the United States for many years. That is how typhoid fever became a major problem from the 1920s to the 1960s. Officials were able to get control of those particular bacteria, but this made room for others to take their place. Currently, it looks as if coliform bacteria are becoming more prevalent within the water supply, and there have been several outbreaks of disease because of it.

Health Issues with Coliform in Water

If your water is contaminated, one of the first indications of this fact will be the presence of coliform in the water. A significant infestation of coliform bacteria could mean that there is something in the water that could possibly make you sick. There may also be viruses, protozoa and parasites within the water.

E. coli is a member of the coliform group, and it can cause you to become very sick. If you contract this disease, you will experience vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. This disease is also known to cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and respiratory illnesses.

Nitrates & Nitrites

What Are Nitrates & Nitrites?

Nitrates and nitrites are polyatomic ions, and they occur naturally within the environment. Plants make nitrates and obtain nourishment from them as well. The bodies of humans and animals also make nitrates and nitrites.

As nitrates are found in fertilizer, they can move into the environment from the farmlands, and this is why we find that there are nitrates in water. They can also enter groundwater and surface water from water treatment plants. Nitrates also come from human and animal waste and septic tanks.

Health Effects of Nitrates & Nitrites in Water

Nitrates reduce the blood’s ability to transfer oxygen throughout the body. Normally, your body contains methemoglobin at a rate of 2.5 percent, but this rate is increased when nitrates are present. When this occurs, you are said to be “oxygen-starved.”

Babies are more vulnerable to the effects of nitrates because they have exceptionally high pH levels in their stomachs. Nitrate contamination also affects pregnant women who have a higher level of methemoglobin during their pregnancies.

Heavy Metals

Common heavy metals:

Lead Mercury Lithium Nickel Cadmium Iron Zinc

Copper Manganese Molybdenum Cobalt Chromium

Heavy metal contamination and public health

In the last few years, there has been an increasing public health concern about water contamination by these metals. Heavy metals can enter a water supply through industrial pollution and landfill waste, lead water pipes, lead solder, plumbing fixtures and from acidic rain breaking down soils and releasing heavy metals into streams, lakes, rivers, and groundwater. Human exposure to heavy metals has risen dramatically. Children, pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals. Municipal water supplies and well water can be contaminated with metals and should be tested to insure the safety of you, your family and pets.

Chlorine Levels

Is Chlorine Safe in Your Drinking Water?

Water treatment plants add chlorine to the water to make it safer to drink. Water passes through the pipes in your home and outside of it, and the concern has been that these are very dirty places. Chlorine was meant to disinfect the water supply. The fact is that chlorine is a poisonous gas, and it may have other chemicals in it. Overall, it is considered to be a hazardous chemical.

Chlorine does have some positive attributes. It does, after all, kill many viruses and bacteria, and this was the purpose for putting chlorine in the water in the first place. Your reading for free chlorine is okay to test positive, as this is the the form that is added to kill bacteria. The Total Chlorine section of your test should be negative, as this is the poisonous form.

Health Issues with Chlorine in Water

Clinical research has been performed on chlorine in water, and the discoveries are somewhat startling. Harvard researchers determined that subjects who drink chlorinated water over a long period of time had a 21 percent chance of contracting bladder cancer. A study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that those who drink chlorinated water over a long period of time have an 80 percent chance of developing bladder cancer.