Why should I test my water?
Whether your drinking water comes from a public water supply (city water) or private well and/or spring, each drinking water source may be at risk for contamination and you need to know what those contaminants are and how you might protect your family from the risks associated with the contamination.
What is Contamination?
Pure water (H20) consists of 11.1888% hydrogen and 88.812% oxygen by weight. Although the term "pure water" is used commonly, it is virtually a non-existent liquid due to its aggressive nature. Water is often referred to as a "universal solvent" because of its ability to dissolve almost anything it comes in contact with. The superior solvent action of water allows it to be easily contaminated by water soluble materials. Water is considered to be "contaminated" when it contains harmful or objectionable substances which may be dissolved, suspended or biological.
For example, well water typically contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese due to its contact with rock formations containing these minerals. Water also dissolves metals from pipes and plumbing fixtures which may contain lead, copper, iron, etc. Gases and dusts from the atmosphere and any other water soluble compounds may also be dissolved by water as they come in contact with it.
City water may contain disinfection by-products that are formed when disinfectants such as chlorine or chloramines combine with naturally occurring organic matter, which happens within the distribution system of the public water supply, so the levels formed can be different based upon where your house is located within the water distribution system. Some disinfection by-products are considered to be carcinogens by the EPA; however, without disinfection of the water supply, there would be a significant increase in waterborne disease, so it is a necessary evil.
Where did this problem originate and why now?
Water pollution and contamination are issues that have been attracting more and more attention since the beginning of America's industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution prompted a rise in the manufacturing of goods. This increased manufacturing led to the creation of new synthetic materials. The U.S. chemical industry produced 11 trillion pounds of synthetic organic chemicals between 1945 and 1991, most of which has ended up in our environment: soil, air and/or water.
In mankind's efforts to improve the quality of life, many different chemicals have been developed. Some of the numerous uses include: food preservation; sprays for personal hygiene; pet care; and cleaning homes and automobiles. Over a thousand new chemicals are created each year to meet demands in the marketplace.
In the past, these chemicals were developed and released into the environment with little thought given to the potential dangers they might present. Environmental Activists have forced industry and government agencies to become more conscious of waste disposal and its impact on the environment. Traditionally, hazardous waste has been disposed of via deep-well injection, surface impoundments, and landfills. Current regulations for deep-well injections do not require long-term monitoring of the sites, which allows waste to contaminate the soil and water long after monitoring periods have passed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 70% of surface impounds (pits, ponds and lagoons) that are used for hazardous waste disposal do not have liners and as many as 90% may threaten ground water. The Office of Technology Assessment has determined that eventually even the best designed and secured landfills will leak hazardous waste into nearby surface and groundwater. Past hazardous waste management practices have allowed thousands of chemical compounds to find their way into many drinking water supplies.
When is a contaminant considered harmful?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which authorized the EPA to establish safety levels for certain contaminants in public water supplies. These safety levels are referred to as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL's), which are the maximum allowable amounts of the regulated compounds in drinking water.
The EPA has divided the standards for drinking water into primary and secondary standards. Primary drinking water standards regulate contaminants that present a health risk. Secondary drinking water standards regulate contaminants that cause aesthetic problems such as taste, odor, color and appearance.
As of today, well water is still not regulated. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure their drinking water supply is safe. Several states have begun regulating their own state testing requirements, which is a step in the right direction; however, more public awareness is needed when dealing with private well water safety.
Many contaminants are colorless, tasteless and odorless, which leads people to believe they have safe drinking water. This may not be a safe assumption. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) receives notification of more than 4,000 cases per year of illness that can be directly linked to drinking water. Contaminated water is real and the more you know about your water, the better you are at protecting your family.
National Testing Laboratories, Ltd. offers comprehensive water testing packages that are designed specifically for well water (Watercheck) and city water (City-Check) analysis. They also offer packages targeted to very specific contaminants such as radiological water testing and corrosivity water testing to name a few. Analysis by a qualified laboratory is the only way to accurately determine the presence or absence of contaminants. With this information you will be able to have the peace of mind in knowing that your drinking water is safe or will help you in pursuing water treatment solutions designed to correct your contamination issues.
Call one of our Technical Service Representatives at 800-458-3330 and they will be happy to help you with any water testing questions you might have.