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We often assume that the water we drink is safe and free from contaminants. The reality can be far from this. Clean water is a privilege we all take for granted. The lead contamination crisis in Flint has caused many to wonder if they’re even getting drinkable water. Unfortunately, the water we presume to be safe is often riddled with contaminants.
Therefore, anytime you move to a new place, we’d recommend checking the water first. Otherwise, you’ll realize how bad it is only when it is too late – oftentimes when the community starts to catch illnesses.
You’d be surprised at the harmful effects of drinking contaminated water, which often looks pretty clean. So, water quality assessment might seem tedious, but it’s essential.
It helps you reduce potential health risks and ensure safe drinking water for you and your family. If you’d like to find out what’s in your water, you’re at the right place. Read on to know how to perform complete water quality assessment the right way.
In This Post:
Most Common Contaminants Present in Water
Lead isn’t the only thing contaminating our water supplies. You’ll find traces of chloramine too, which is used to disinfect drinking water. More than 4 mg of chloramine per liter of water can result in harmful effects.
Iron, chlorine, and disinfection byproducts are other common contaminants. In addition, pesticides mixed with water can seep through the surface and mix in groundwater – rendering it unsuitable for drinking.
Similarly, nitrates enter our drinking water due to their use as fertilizers.
It’s also a good idea to look out for fluoride (although it isn’t considered a contaminant and is added by municipal water supplies in the US to prevent tooth decay). Too much fluoride is considered problematic. Here’s a useful guide on how to test water for fluoride.
Water Quality Assessment Done Right
Here’s how you can perform water quality assessment.
Obtain Consumer Confidence Report
Your first step should be to obtain your county’s CCR (Consumer Confidence Report). This water quality report is released every year on the 1st of July. You can access the CCR for your specific county here.
The community water suppliers must provide you with such a report. They are bound to do that by the EPA and usually send the report via mail or online.
However, if you live in an apartment complex or rental house, you don’t pay the water bill directly. So, in that case, you’ll have to contact your building manager or landlord for the CCR.
Now, the next step is to understand your CCR.
Not all CCRs look the same. The water quality report will inform you of the contaminants present in the water and how they can affect your health. Contaminants in a harmful quantity will be marked as “violated”.
Hire a Lab to Test Water
It’s also a good idea to hire a water testing lab to ensure your drinking water is safe. It will help put your mind at ease once you know what’s in the water.
Secondly, hiring a testing lab will help you discover hard-to-find contaminants as these labs use distinctive methods to analyze the water.
Lastly, knowing your accurate water quality test results will help avoid hair and skin problems, for example hair damage. Did you think your hair loss is due to the weather? Maybe not – maybe it’s the water that is causing havoc.
A lab test will reveal most impurities and contaminants present in your water system, which will help you take the right preventive measures.
Using DIY Test Kits
The third precautionary measure you can take is using a do-it-yourself test kit. After all, doing it yourself gives you more reassurance. There are several water testing kits available online.
Depending on your preference, you can opt for a digital test or a visual test. However, this practice will limit you somewhat. Firstly, you can’t check for all contaminants using test kits because such extensive test kits aren’t publicly available.
Secondly, some of the contaminants only appear in parts per billion (ppb). That means you need more advanced testing tools to create accurate results. Therefore, we’d only recommend DIY water testing if you want to get a general idea of your water conditions.
Using Your Senses
Lastly, you can determine water quality using your senses.
- If your community’s water tastes like chemicals or has a bitter tinge to it, you can file a complaint to your local water supplier.
- Discoloration and cloudiness in water are also clear signs for concern.
- Yellow water is a sign of chromium-6, which can cause cancer.
- Brown water is a sign of excess iron, lead, or manganese.
- Furthermore, if your hands feel slimy even after using soap, it’s a sign of hard water.
- If your water smells like bleach, you’re probably facing excessive chlorine.
- Likewise, the smell of rotten eggs indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide.
- Lastly, if you constantly smell fish in your water or drinking glasses, it could mean there’s an excess of barium. It could also be an indication of the presence of cadmium. This chemical can cause kidney, bone, and liver damage.
Even when you think your drinking water is safe, you should still beware. There are several harmful contaminants that might be present in our water that we’re unaware of. With a water quality assessment done right, you’ll be able to identify those contaminants, and prevent any oncoming diseases and other potential health risks.
A water quality test can also help you track changes in water quality over time.
If your assessment results are concerning, you should contact your local municipal water supply. You can also take preventive measures in your daily life to ensure the water is safe and drinkable for your family.