Most of us need to drink more water to get up to the eight glasses a day we’re supposed to get. But then, what are we supposed to do about the contaminates that can be in tap water and make it unsafe? What are the most common things which can be in drinking water?
Any water source will naturally have some impurities and some level of contamination. Some contaminants are organic. Some are man made. Even out in plain, untreated, unfiltered nature, water in streams, rivers and lakes have impurities from dirt, rock, biological, animal and other matter.
As water goes through any municipal or public water treatment facility, it is made safe to go to everyone’s homes and taps. This in general means additives and chemicals are added. While this process is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the specifics, procedures, and implementations of those guidelines vary by municipality. Presently, the EPA approximates more than 60,000 various water treatment products are being used in public water in the United States, yet the Safe Water Act oversees 91 contaminants.
To know more about the potential pollutants which can get into home tap water, here are some of the most common contaminants, how to be aware of them and what problems they cause.
Nitrates are chemicals most often found in, and leached out of, plant food, fertilizer, manure and waste. Nitrates can also get into water from septic tanks and plumbing. This problem is most prevalent in rural regions. When nitrogen in fertilizer is either left over by plants or carried off by overflow, it can combine with water sources and it forms into nitrates.
Short term exposure to water with high nitrate levels can be dangerous. It is very harmful to babies and young children. It can cause “blue baby” condition or methemoglobinemia. This cuts the blood’s normal function of carrying oxygen throughout a body. Especially in young infants or children, this causes parts of a body to turn blue and it can cause death.
Lead is largely a problem in older water systems or with older plumbing, but it is still a prevalent issue in some areas of the country. Lead can leak into water through old infrastructure. Lead in water can cause lead poisoning. No amount of lead in water in considered a safe or allowable level. Lead poisoning causes kidney damage, brain disorders, blood disorders, nerve damage, cancer and other serious health problems. It is more harmful to children, but capable of harming anyone at any age. Young children are more susceptible to brain, growth and developmental problems from lead poisoning.
Arsenic is a metal compound. It’s a natural substance, although found in very small amounts naturally. Arsenic can get into tap water in two ways. Natural deposits can be in water in very small amounts. Second, and this is more frequent and more harmful, arsenic can come from hazardous waste and get into water. Arsenic can be a pollutant from waste from manufacturing or industrial facilities.
Arsenic can’t be smelled or seen in water. Water must be tested to know if it has arsenic in it. The health effects of consuming arsenic include digestive problems, nerve damage, skin cancer and skin problems.
Bacteria and Viruses
Microorganisms, bacteria and viruses are commonly, and naturally, in water. All water from natural sources will have organisms and bacteria in it. While most is harmless to humans, there are some – such as E. Coli – which are very dangerous. Young children and seniors are more susceptible to illness or death from such waterborne organisms, protozoans, viruses and bacteria.
Aluminum is the third most common element in the ground, so it gets into water very often and easily. It’s only been in recent years that efforts to prevent and remove aluminum from public water supplies have become better. New information shows dementia, anemia, nerve damage, organ disorders and more health problems could be coming from consuming aluminum in water.
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in the ground. It’s considered to be a beneficial addition to water sources, including for dental health. Fluoride has been added to many water supplies in the U.S. for nearly a century. There are some studies which show fluoride, especially in levels that are too high, can cause harmful effects. High levels of fluoride may cause weakened tooth enamel and weakened bones.
Chlorine and Chloramine
Both chlorine and chloramine are anti-bacterial disinfectant solutions added to water to decrease microbes, bacteria and viruses. Nevertheless, they respond with normally present raw material in water (like rotting leaves), producing dangerous disinfection byproducts (DBPs).
DBPs are 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine. Studies are linking DBPs to cancer, problems with pregnancies (including miscarriages) and potentially more long-tern health problems.
Using chloramine is becoming better than chlorine because chloramine is a better, longer-lasting decontamination material for local water facilities and departments. Chloramine stays in water longer and it’s more difficult to filter out, so it is having more of an impact on people’s drinking water.
South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. HALO systems solve hard water problems, give your family clear, great-tasting water and are totally maintenance free. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.