If you think that contaminated drinking water is only something you’ll run across in foreign countries, think again. The water coming into your home could be filled with bacteria and dangerous chemicals. But how are you supposed to know if this is the case?
The Dangers of Contaminated Drinking Water
There are two primary ways of bringing water into your home’s plumbing system. You either use a private well or have access to the local water department’s supply. With today’s infrastructure, the vast majority of people have access to their municipality’s water supply. Under this scenario, both ground water and surface water are collected by the city and then treated at a water treatment facility. The treatment is designed to remove harmful bacteria and contaminants.
Once the water is treated, it’s then stored in massive reservoirs, like water towers. From there, water enters into the city’s underground pipes and is transported to each home’s main supply line. From the main supply line, water enters the home and traverses through various pipes until a faucet is turned on and it pours out into the tub, shower, sink, washing machine, etc.
Sometimes, your water treatment facility doesn’t do an adequate job of removing contaminants. Other times, contaminants find their way in through the various pipes the water comes into contact with. Either way, contaminated water isn’t something you want to deal with.
“The presence of contaminants in water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders,” CDC.gov notes. “Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are compromised because of AIDS, chemotherapy, or transplant medications, may be especially susceptible to illness from some contaminants.”
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about contaminated drinking water all of the time. Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to set rules for safe levels of contaminants and towns and cities are required to regularly test their drinking water supply and publish the results.
With that being said, very rarely will you ever find 100 percent pure water. There will always be trace elements of various contaminants. The key is to make sure your water falls within the EPA’s safe range – especially when it comes to things like lead, radium, silver, barium, and other dangerous waterborne contaminants.
Seven Signs You Need to Take a Closer Look
While most people are savvy enough to know that contaminated water isn’t safe to drink, they don’t always realize when their water has been affected.
If you want to be a responsible individual who is capable of watching out for your family, then you need to recognize the telltale signs of water contamination. Here are a few of the most common:
- Cloudy Water
One of the first things people tend to notice is a visual change in their water’s appearance. If you begin to see cloudy water, then you should probably consider what’s happening. While water can and should contain a number of minerals, it should always be clear to the sight. Water should be 99.99999999 percent pure, which means the remaining part is not enough to cloud up the water. If things get cloudy, it’s time to test your water.
- Chlorine Smell
Drinking water shouldn’t have much of a smell to it. If your drinking water begins to smell more like a swimming pool, then something is probably wrong. While public water treatment facilities add some amounts of chlorine to kill bacteria, there shouldn’t be enough present to cause a smell. Test your water if you think there’s an abnormal amount of chlorine in it, as this can be dangerous to your health.
- Colored Tint
Remember, water is supposed to be clear. If you see any coloring to it whatsoever, then stop drinking immediately. The most frequent discoloration is brown or orange. “This is often a sign of excessive iron or manganese in the water. There are a number of possible causes, the most common of which is mining or excavation near the water supplies,” Daily Health Remedies says. Another possible cause is old water pipes that are rusting. Regardless of the cause, you should test your water for contamination right away.
- Sulfur Smell
Does your water smell like rotten eggs? If so, you’re smelling sulfur, which naturally occurs in the ground. And while some trace amounts of sulfur is normal in drinking water, there shouldn’t be so much that it overpowers your senses. High levels of sulfur can lead to intestinal distress and dehydration. Get this checked out.
- Pipe Deterioration
Have you been underneath your house lately and noticed pipe deterioration in certain areas? If so, this could be a sign that your water is being contaminated. When pipes deteriorate and rust, some of the chemicals and elements from the pipes can seep into the water and affect its quality and safety. Have a plumber take a look.
- Issues in Your Neighborhood
Even if you haven’t had any issues in your own home, you should be alarmed if your neighbors – who have homes built around the same time as yours – are having issues. For example, if their pipes are deteriorating and causing issues with their drinking water, it’s possible that your pipes are too.
- Physical Symptoms
Finally, don’t ignore physical symptoms. While physical symptoms often indicate that you’ve been exposed to contaminated drinking water for some time, it’s better to deal with it now. Physical symptoms combined with any of the other signs above should be ample evidence to bring to your family doctor. He’ll likely conduct a blood test for different chemicals.
Test Your Water With TestAssured
Whether some of the following signs sound familiar or you just feel like it’s important to be proactive and test your home’s water supply, the good news is that you can do it very cost-effectively on your own. At TestAssured, we offer a variety of DIY water testing kits that will give you results within minutes. Feel free to check them out and contact us with any questions you may have!