Identifying Signs of Contamination in Water
Water pollution is a major public health problem. Drinking contaminated water which contains pollutants and unwanted microorganisms can seriously damage your health.
Some people are more vulnerable to falling sick from germs and chemicals in water:
People who are pregnant
People with compromised immune systems, such as HIV patients, cancer patients getting chemotherapy, or those taking transplant medications
So how can you tell if a glass of water is fit to drink? Simply looking at it is not enough.
Here are some signs that can help you determine if your drinking water is contaminated.
Excess chloride in water gives it a salty taste. However, you may not be able to taste it at lower concentrations. Chloride can also contribute to the corrosion of plumbing and appliances.
High levels of sodium in water give it a salty or bitter taste. It’s important to address this contamination as excessive amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure, which can eventually lead to hypertension.
Read about our Sea Water RO Systems that remove salt (sodium chloride) from the sea water
There are many ways to identify excessive copper levels in your water. It causes blue-green stains on plumbing fixtures and gives water a bitter, medicinal taste. While short-term exposure to excess copper can cause intestinal discomfort, long-term exposure may cause liver and kidney damage.
Fluoride is a common ingredient in dental products like toothpastes. However, an excess amount of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis. Signs include discoloration of teeth in the form of opaque white marks and weakening of the enamel. Excess fluoride is only a concern when the water is used for cooking and drinking- it is safe to use for bathing and washing purposes.
High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in water give it a rancid rotten egg odor and a sulfur-like taste. While hydrogen sulfide is poisonous and flammable, it can be detected by the human nose before it can cause any damage. It can also cause corrosion of metal pipes and form black or yellow stains in fixtures.
Read about our Water Treatment Solution for removal of Hydrogen Sulfide
Large amounts of nitrate in water causes shortness of breath or blueness of skin in babies. It can be extremely dangerous as it can cause severe oxygen deficiency and lead to death for those at high risk such as pregnant women and infants. It’s important to note that boiling the water does not reduce the nitrate concentration; in fact, it actually increases the concentration by removing the water and leaving nitrates behind.
Lead can enter your water if your pipes containing lead corrode. Lead pipes are usually found in older houses built before 1970. If you suspect you have lead plumbing in your home, you should get a plumber to identify and replace them. Lead in drinking water can permanently stunt growth if children are overexposed during their development period. Signs of lead poisoning in young children include abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue and hearing loss.
Zinc gives water a bitter, medicinal taste and a milky or chalky appearance. In high concentrations, zinc can act as an intestinal irritant, causing nausea and vomiting. Elevated levels of zinc in water can be caused by pipe and fixture corrosion and elevated levels of lead and cadmium or other corrosion by-products.
Remember, while these indications can help you figure out if there's a problem in water, it’s always best to have your water professionally tested. Advanced Watertek has been an expert in the field of water treatment and offers membrane-based purification technologies since 1984. Find out more about our custom water and wastewater treatment solutions here.
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