Homeowners often come to us because they can sense that something is wrong with their water. The problem might be a bad taste, an offensive odor, floating particles or even a strange color. These are all great reasons to install a water system in your home, but there are many other homeowners who don’t even realize that there is something wrong with their water. For these homeowners, the contaminants in their water are not detectable by human senses, and the health effects of those problems can be much more severe. Today we’re going to talk about the types of hidden contaminants commonly found in water, why those contaminants are so dangerous and how you can know whether or not your tap water contains hidden contaminants!
The types of hidden contaminants that are commonly found in tap water
- Viruses and bacteria. There are many categories of viruses and bacteria that can be spread via the water that you drink. Although some of these contaminants are killed off by water treatment plants, others can survive the treatment process and make it into the water in your home. Not only are viruses and bacteria microscopic in size, but they also typically do not give off any strange odors, tastes or smells.
- Heavy metals. Heavy metals such as lead can sometimes give off a metallic taste or odor, but usually only at large quantities. Often times, heavy metals can occur at dangerous levels in water without being detected by the human senses.
- Chemicals. There are thousands of different chemicals that can end up in your water, including trihalomethanes (THMs), pesticides and traces of pharmaceutical drugs. These dissolved chemicals are almost impossible to detect without testing.
Why are hidden water contaminants so dangerous?
Some water contaminants, such as iron and sulfur, are easy to detect because of their noticeable taste, smell and/or appearance. But the effects of contaminants like these are mostly aesthetic; their health effects are often negligible. Hidden water contaminants, on the other hand, can lead to very serious and chronic health effects, some of which can be life-threatening.
One of the biggest issues with hidden water contaminants is that they are often found in small traces. This might seem like a good thing, but it really means that people can be exposed to small traces of hidden contaminants for a long period of time without noticing it. Most hidden contaminants can cause very serious health issues after people are exposed to small doses of them over a long period of time. As a result, many people don’t realize that their health is being affected by their water until they have been exposed to hidden contaminants for months or even years.
The Water Quality Association (WQA) distinguishes between two types of health effects of hidden water contaminants:
- Acute effects. These health effects include things like nausea, dizziness, colds and flu-like symptoms that tend to be temporary. Hidden water contaminants only cause health issues like these when they are found at very high levels.
- Chronic effects. These health effects develop over time after long-term exposure to hidden water contaminants. Even though they take longer to develop, they are much more severe. Examples of chronic health effects from hidden water contaminants include liver problems, kidney problems, reproductive issues, cognitive issues and an increased risk of various types of cancer.
How can you detect hidden water contaminants?
Now that you know the dangers of hidden water contaminants, you might be wondering how you can know whether or not your tap water is contaminated. Although hidden contaminants cannot be detected by human senses, they can be measured during a professional analysis of your home’s tap water. EPA Water offers free testing services that will test your water for many different hidden contaminants. After your test is complete, we’ll provide you with the results and help you decide which treatment option might be best for your home.
If you have any questions about hidden water contaminants, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact EPA Water Consultants, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We provide service all over Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including towns like Buckingham, Lansdale and Chalfont, PA.
photo credit: Search. via photopin (license)