The Truth about Contaminated Water

No one wants to talk about contaminated water. After all, it’s not exactly a pleasant subject. However, knowledge is power and if you want to protect yourself you need to know about the dangers of unclean water.

Many people are surprised to learn that anything in water is considered contamination. The problems begin to occur when the things contaminating water are dangerous.

Many heavy metals can be found in water samples but these metals cause no harm at low levels. There are other dangerous contaminants, however, that cause water pollution. These contaminants include things like radioactive waste.

While it is true that you can’t always tell if water is contaminated simply by looking at it, many times you will be able to tell. Contaminated water which loses its transparency is considered turbid. The more turbid a water sample is the more contaminated the water.

What follows are the four basic types of water contaminants and some examples of each:

  1. Biological: Bacteria, parasites, protozoan, viruses
  2. Chemical: Bleach, cleaning products, drugs, fertilizers, oil, pesticides, salt
  3. Physical: Dirt, sand
  4. Radiological: Radioactive waste including cesium, radon, uranium

So what causes water contamination? One of the biggest contaminants are volatile organic compounds. These are organic materials that can easily become gas or vapor. Examples include things like carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. Pesticides also are considered a huge source of water contamination. Poorly maintained septic tanks are a culprit, as well, especially in rural areas. Overuse of groundwater – while not contamination itself – can cause contamination.

While this can all seem pretty depressing, there are ways to make sure you are doing your part to reduce water contamination and promote clean water.

  • Test the water in your home annually to prevent contamination problems from occurring or, if they have already occurred, from becoming worse.
  • If you notice something different about your water, get it tested immediately.
  • Don’t flush or wash garbage down the drain. This will prevent bacteria growing in pipes and contaminating your home’s water supply.
  • Reduce the amount of chemicals you store in your home or on your property and opt for milder options.
  • Maintain your faucets, pipes, septic tank (if you have one) and toilets and schedule regular maintenance checks to make sure they are working properly.
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