Testing Your Drinking Water Is Important!
Acute, widespread water contamination events often make headline news, but untested water and long-term exposure are arguably even more dangerous. In 2015, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 77 million Americans drank water that failed to meet federal health standards.
Across the US, many municipal water suppliers fail to properly test the water or report results at all. An at-home water test kit can provide peace of mind and keep water providers more accountable. Whether you drink public tap water like 87% of US households or you have access to a private well, contamination is a constant concern.
Discover six of the most common drinking water contaminants and learn what to do if your water test kit comes back positive.
1. Harmful Bacteria
Bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, and the risks are even higher for people with compromised or weak immune systems. A water test kit can identify the presence of E. coli, Shigella, Klebsiella, Salmonella, and more. The presence of bacteria is often an indicator of something worse. When coliform bacteria like E. coli is detected by a water test kit, that may be a sign of sewage contamination and other disease-causing pathogens. Bacterial growth can occur in the water system and the household plumbing system itself or build up on faucets over time.
2. Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrogen contamination is most common in well water, and it typically stems from fertilized grass or crops, livestock manure, and improper sewage disposal. Nitrates can easily leach into the ground water after heavy rains or over-irrigation and enter the ground water. Nitrates are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, so water testing kits are virtually the only way to monitor safe limits. According to the EPA, public tap water cannot exceed 1 mg per liter, and well water is limited to 10 mg per liter. Even with the higher allowance, a US geological survey found that 9% of tested wells exceeded the maximum limit between 1970 and 1992. Nitrate contamination can cause severe illness and death in infants. Methemoglobinemia or ‘baby blue syndrome’ is a severe condition that pregnant or nursing mothers and young families need to actively be aware of and testing for.
3. Heavy Metals
Measuring the pH balance of your tap water can reveal the presence of heavy metals. With a low pH, highly acidic water can corrode metal pipes and cause lead, copper, or iron to flake off. On the other hand, high-pH water often indicates that contaminants are dissolved in higher concentrations. Arsenic is a naturally-occurring mineral, but drinking water should never have more than 3 parts per billion. There is sometimes a correlation between high pH levels and arsenic contamination.
4. Excess Chlorine
Chlorine is used to safely disinfect tap water, but elevated levels can be toxic or even fatal. At high concentrations chlorine can dull your hair, create a hazy or cloudy color, and cause the water to smell like chemicals. Even when applied at the proper level, chlorine can cause a toxic byproduct called trihalomethanes (THM). The EPA allows THMs up to 100 parts per billion. It’s important to note that the chemical can also be inhaled during showering, and it’s not only a drinking water issue.
5. Chemical Pesticides
Atrazine and simazine are two of the most common, problematic pesticides in water. Atrazine is most commonly identified with water test kits in the South and Midwest, but its use is widespread across the US. The chemical is an endocrine disruptor that can interfere with hormones, and the maximum water limit is 3 parts per billion. Simazine is also frequently found in well water and tap water. This pesticide causes central nervous system issues, many types of cancer, and birth defects. Long-term exposure has also been linked to blood disorders when levels exceed 4 parts per billion.
6. Lead in Water
There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and the toxic effects are most pronounced in children. Even if your home is less than 40 years old and your municipal water provider has committed to removing lead pipes, you may still be at risk. Lead is commonly found in faucets, fittings, and other fixtures. AquaScreen is the world’s most sensitive rapid test, and it can detect lead in water down to 3.8 parts per billion. Our rapid lead test kit is five times more sensitive than the EPA action level.
AquaScreen Your Water Regularly for Peace of Mind:
AquaScreen Drinking Water Test Kits contain tests for commonly-occurring contaminants that can threaten your family's health. Manufactured in the USA by trusted biotech firm Silver Lake Research, each test is simple to run but extremely sensitive and accurate.
Next Steps and Safety Measures
For elevated bacteria levels, boiling water and UV sterilization are good options. However, boiled water is not always healthy. Did you know that boiling water will actually increase elevated nitrate levels?
Reverse osmosis is one of the easiest ways to clean your water and remove contamination, including pesticides, lead, nitrates, and heavy metals.
Contamination can happen at any time! It’s important to regularly test your drinking water with AquaScreen’s trusted at-home kit. If your test comes back positive, stop drinking the tap water and alert your local authorities as soon as possible.