The Common Contaminants Found In Tap Water

There has been an increased amount of interest in recent years surrounding the contents of the tap water that is supplied to homes throughout the US. And when you look at recent crisis’s involving the contaminated water supplies that have been piped into towns around the country, the level of interest and concern being shown is most definitely warranted.

The important distinction to make when considering the contents of tap water is between those minerals and substances which are undesirable and those which are downright dangerous. From there, you can easily decide on which home water filtration system is right for you.

Water Quality Testing

We have decided that it would be beneficial to include all of this information in one place – in turn acting as a useful resource for those who wish to ensure that their drinking water is as clean as it could possibly be – and with over 80% of households connected to mains water, we do hope that you will start taking an active interest in where your drinking water comes from.

The Flint Water Crisis - Flint, Michigan

Most people are now familiar with the issues that have plagued Flint, MI ever since the source of their water supply was changed over from Lake Huron and the Detroit River, over to the Flint River on the grounds that it would be cheaper to supply.

Unfortunately, the water treatment process that was implemented wasn’t sufficient enough to ensure that the deficiencies in the water infrastructure system didn’t have an effect on the water supply.

The consequences were that the residents of Flint were exposed to significant quantities of lead in addition to the deadly bacteria known as Legionella as well as other assorted forms of bacteria and contaminants.

Mains Water in The US

Thankfully, such widespread disasters concerning our water supplies are uncommon with 99% of public water systems meeting the required safety and water quality standards. Water quality monitoring continues to improve which should see us eventually reach a position where home water filtration will be more of a preference than a necessity.

Flint Water Pollution

Dangerous Contaminants

​Arsenic

The arsenic that is sometimes present in tap water occurs naturally due to the presence of rock formations which most natural watercourses pass through. Specifically, groundwater has the ability to dissolve the arsenic present and carry it into streams, rivers and aquifers which is where we source our water from.

Arsenic is a poison which can cause a variety of illnesses which is why it is so important to ensure that as little of it is consumed as possible. Most of the arsenic present in mains water is removed during the treatment process but many homeowners like to reduce its presence even further through the use of activated charcoal and reverse osmosis filters.

Lead

Lead is toxic regardless of the concentration and should never been consumed. The crisis in Flint has made more of us aware of just how real this possibility is.

Lead typically leaches through poorly maintained pipework, whether the municipal water infrastructure or the pipes within your home. To remove this possibility altogether, many homeowners purchase a water filter which is capable of removing any lead that is present.

Chromium

Chromium is a type of carcinogen which is used in the production of a variety of materials. The trouble is, chromium has been shown to leach into groundwater where it has been used which means that it can end up in our water supplies.  

Like most carcinogens, chromium isn’t a substance that we should be ingesting in large quantities as it can have several impacts on our health. Thankfully, chromium can be removed through water filtration.

Mercury

Mercury is a form of liquid metal which occurs naturally within the Earth’s crust and can find its way into groundwater. The risks of exposure to mercury are cited as kidney failure which is why it should never be consumed.

Luckily, its presence is rare and it can be removed from drinking water through the use of a reverse osmosis or similar membrane based water filter.

​Legionella

Legionella is waterborne bacteria which presents itself as Legionnaire’s Disease. It is formed within stagnant water which is allowed to sit undisturbed at a water temperature which is ineffective at killing it.

Common places for it to form is in pipework that is rarely used or that features sections where water is never changed or flushed such as ‘dead-end’ sections of pipework.

Legionnaires Disease has been responsible for many deaths over the years, but its prevalence is decreasing. In addition, certain types of water filter can remove Legionella bacteria altogether.

Nitrate

Nitrates are chemical compounds which are used as fertilizers in the farming industry in addition to being present in manure and septic tank discharge. Nitrate exposure has been shown to impair the ability for red blood cells to carry oxygen with the consequences being highest in children and pregnant women.

The most effective and accessible way to remove nitrates from drinking water is the reverse osmosis filtration process.

Microbiological Contamination

Any bacteria which shouldn’t be present in drinking water falls under this category. Such bacteria include E. coli and other similar forms of bacteria which are present due to groundwater contamination through contact with livestock irrigation or human waste.

The presence of such contamination is rare as the water treatment process is designed to remove all of these harmful bacteria.

Lead In Water

​Undesirable Contaminants

Flouride

Fluoride is naturally present in water and some municipalities even go as far as to increase its concentration within mains water supplies as it has been shown to be beneficial to teeth development in controlled dosages.

On the other hand, many homeowners treat fluoride with scepticism and are intent on removing it altogether which is possible through the use of the right water filtration system.

Chlorine

Chlorine is effective in killing bacteria which is why it is added to our water supply. What many homeowners notice is that it has a distinct taste and smell which some find unpleasant.

In the right quantities, chlorine is perfectly safe, but it can be easily and efficiently removed by using any device that is capable of filtering water.

​Magnesium

Magnesium is actually a beneficial mineral but some people don't like the taste that it can add to drinking water. In small quantities, magnesium is nothing to be concerned about with some water filters maintaining the levels of magnesium that are naturally present.

If you happen to utilise a water softening system, most of your water supply's magnesium content will be removed as the hardness level is reduced, leaving you with softer water.

Wastewater Treatment

In Conclusion

Our list of contaminants that you are most likely to find it your water supply should be enough for you to conduct your own research into which ones your household might be most at risk from.

Your point of view on some of them will differ but there are several chemicals we’ve outlined which you should make sure that you never consume.  

Fortunately, effective water filtration is often enough to ensure that your drinking water is perfectly safe.

​    Resources:

​    ​​EPA​​​​​​

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