Water is essential for life, necessary for our basic existence. Depending on where you live, your residential water supply may come from a municipal source or from well water. In either case, it may have contaminants like lead, iron, magnesium, arsenic, nitrates and bacteria. Water tests can reveal the presence of physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances in the water supply. Home and commercial water filtration systems can be used to get rid of the contaminants to ensure a purer drinking water supply.
Why clean drinking water is necessary
Our bodies are made up primarily of water. It accounts for two-thirds of our body weight, and is crucial to our normal functioning. So all the cautions we routinely hear about drinking at least six to eight glasses of water each day are founded in fact. But even though most people are aware of the importance of drinking water for their health, it’s easy to get dehydrated without even being aware of it.
In fact, there’s almost a hidden epidemic of dehydration, with three out of four people in North America not drinking enough water to stay healthy. But just drinking water is not enough. It should be clean water. Water quality is important, and many people use home and commercial water filtration systems for a purer water supply.
Contaminants in the water supply
What are water contaminants and how do they get in your water supply? Contaminants can be of several different types, such as physical, biological, chemical and radiological. Physical contaminants can originate from sediments and organic material in water bodies. Chemical contaminants can include elements like lead, iron and magnesium as well as nitrogen, pesticides and pharmaceutical toxins. These can have natural or manmade sources. Luckily, home and commercial water filtration systems can remove most of these contaminants from your water supply.
Biological contaminants are bacteria, viruses and parasites. Radiological contaminants like cesium, plutonium and uranium emit radiation which can be harmful to human and animal health. The health effects of contaminants are classified as acute when they produce effects within hours or days of consumption. When contaminants have an impact on health after prolonged consumption, their effects are said to be chronic. Both types of health effects can be dangerous and even fatal.
Testing for contaminants
Testing your water supply is the first step in dealing with the problem of contaminants. You may see signs that indicate the type of testing necessary. For instance, if your family suffers frequently from gastrointestinal illnesses, testing for bacteria should be done. In agricultural areas, water should be tested for nitrates, pesticides and coliform bacteria. Hard water will leave a white deposit on kettles and pots.
Stains on the plumbing fixtures and laundry indicate the presence of excess amounts of iron, copper and manganese. Chemicals from gas stations and buried fuel tanks may leach into the soil and then the water supply. If you live near one, your water supply may need to be tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
You can do the testing yourself or call in the professionals for a more detailed test. Once you’ve identified the problem, you should be able to find the right home or commercial water filtration system to rid your drinking water supply of the contaminants.