How do I know if my tap water is safe to drink? - Renewell Water

Water that’s safe to drink should ideally be clear with no odor or funny taste. One way to tell if water is contaminated is to look for turbidity, or cloudiness. While cloudy water isn’t necessarily dangerous to your health, it could signal the presence of unsafe pathogens or chemicals.

  • Our senses are a valuable tools when looking for contaminants in drinking water.
  • Water that’s safe to drink should ideally be clear with no odor or funny taste.
  • If your tap water tastes metallic, smells fishy, or comes out cloudy, it could signal the presence of unsafe contaminants.

The best way to tell exactly what’s in our water is to have it professionally tested, but there are a few ways to screen for contaminants using our senses.

Here are some signs that your tap water might not be safe to drink.

A good rule of thumb is to check for cloudiness.

Water that’s safe to drink should ideally be clear with no odor or funny taste. One way to tell if water is contaminated is to look for turbidity, or cloudiness. While cloudy water isn’t necessarily dangerous to your health, it could signal the presence of unsafe pathogens or chemicals.

Also check to see if your hands feel slimy after washing them with soap and water.

Hard water is often characterized by a buildup of substances like calcium or magnesium, which can leave deposits on your sink, faucet, or drinking glass. It might also be the reason why your hands feel slimy after washing them with soap and water, or you have to use more laundry detergent to clean your clothes.

Hard water isn’t a sure-fire sign that your water source is contaminated — in some cases, it’s caused by an excess of calcium or magnesium, which shouldn’t pose any harm — but it might be an indicator of metals like aluminium, manganese, and lead.

Yellow, orange, or brown water is never a good sign.

Yellow water could signal the presence of chromium-6, the cancer-causing chemical that resulted in a lawsuit filed by clean water advocate Erin Brockovich. It might also be a sign of a buildup of iron, manganese, copper, or lead. If your water comes from a public system, check to see whether the yellow tint only appears while running cold water, which could be a sign that your utility is simply clearing out its pipes.

Water that’s orange or brown could also contain excess iron, manganese, or lead, or signal the presence of rust, which can breed bacteria.

Water tinged with green or blue could contain elevated levels of copper.

Blue or green water is often a sign of elevated levels of copper caused by corroded pipes. Though copper isn’t bad for you in small doses, high levels of exposure can produce health problems such as anemia and liver and kidney damage.

If your water smells like bleach, be wary of excess chlorine.

Chlorine is deliberately added to the US water supply to kill germs and pathogens, but when it mixes with other organic compounds it can create a few harmful byproducts.

One of these byproducts, a group of chemicals known as trihalomethanes (THMs), has been linked to kidney problems and increased cancer risk. Another, known as haloacetic acids (HAAs), causes skin irritation and could also increase cancer risk.

Low levels of chlorine in the water system can also expose people to a parasite called giardia that causes diarrhea, cramps, and nausea.

Water that smells like bleach could be a sign of excess chlorine in your local system.

The smell of rotten eggs means your water could contain hydrogen sulfide.

Water that smells like sewage or rotten eggs could contain hydrogen sulfide, a colorless gas that can naturally occur in groundwater. When this gas is exposed to certain bacteria, it converts into sulfate, which can cause dehydration or diarrhea.

If the water smells fishy, it could be a sign of barium or cadmium.

Fishy-smelling water could signal an excess of barium, a naturally-occurring chemical that can seep into a water supply through drilling or manufacturing. When barium is present above the EPA’s recommended levels, it could cause increased blood pressure, muscle weakness, or kidney, liver, and heart damage.

Water that smells fishy might also contain cadmium, a chemical found in lead and copper ores, which often leaches into pipes through industrial waste. Exposure to elevated levels of cadmium in drinking water can cause kidney, liver, and bone damage.

One helpful way to check if your water is safe is to pour a glass from the tap and move to another room. After swirling the water around, if it still smells like fish, it could mean that contaminants are present.

A metallic taste could signal the presence of excess iron or copper.

Rusty pipes can release metals like iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and lead into local water supplies, giving the liquid a metallic, or salty, taste. This foul flavor helped alert Flint residents to the presence of lead in their drinking water, but in some cases, it’s merely a sign of a low pH.

Other contaminants are invisible.

A number of contaminants, including arsenic and nitrates, are hidden to the naked eye. In many cases, a single drinking water system will contain more than one hazardous chemical, making it difficult for individuals to evaluate the overall health risk.

Should I Have My Water Tested?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. It concerns your health and the health of your family, so you need to know some basic facts. In addition to illness, a variety of less serious problems such as taste, color, odor and staining of clothes or fixtures are signs of possible water quality problems. Other things to think about include the nearness of your water well to septic systems and the composition of your home’s plumbing materials. This fact sheet provides information to help you decide whether or not to have your water tested, and if so, suggested tests for your situation.

Regardless of your water source, here are two
situations that may require testing:

Do you suspect lead may be in some of your household plumbing materials and water service lines?

Most water systems test for lead as a regular part of water monitoring. These tests give a system-wide picture, but do not reflect conditions at a specific household faucet. If you want to know if your home’s drinking water contains unsafe levels of lead, have your water tested. Testing is the only way to confirm if a lead is present or
absent. Some faucets and pitcher filters can remove lead from drinking water. If you use a filter to remove lead, be sure you get one that is certified to remove lead by NSF International.

Are you considering a home water treatment unit?

Call us today! 0429420517 or email us at [email protected]

How frequently should I test?

Test water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels, especially if you have a new well, or have replaced or repaired pipes, pumps, or the good casing.

Do you expect to have a new baby in the
household?

Test for nitrate in the early months of pregnancy, before bringing an infant home, and again during the first six months of the baby’s life. It is best to test for nitrate during the spring or summer following a rainy period.

Do you have taste, odor, and staining issues?

Test for sulfate, chloride, iron, manganese, hardness, and corrosion, and every three years. If you suspect other contaminants, test for these also.

Have you had a chemical or fuel spill or leak near your water supply?

Test your well for chemical contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds. Tests can be expensive; limit them to possible problems specific to your situation. Local experts can tell you about possible impurities in your area.

Is someone in your household pregnant or nursing an infant?

Are there unexplained illnesses in your family?

Do you notice a change in water taste, odor, color, or clarity?

You may need to test more than once a year.

Do you know who can test your water?

Often county health departments will help you test for bacteria or nitrates. If not, you can have your water tested by a state-certified laboratory.

Public Water Systems

When you turn on the tap, where does the water come from? If you pay a water bill, you are purchasing water from a public water system, where your water is monitored, tested and the results reported to the federal, state, or tribal drinking water agencies responsible for making sure it meets the National Primary Drinking
Water Standards. Your water company must notify you when contaminants are in the water they provide that may cause illness or other problems.

Private Water Supplies

If your drinking water does not come from a public water system, or you get your drinking water from a household well, you alone are responsible for assuring that it is safe. For this reason, routine testing for a few of the most common contaminants is highly recommended. Even if you currently have a safe, pure water supply, regular testing can be valuable because it establishes a record of water quality. This record is helpful in solving any future problems and in obtaining compensation if someone damages your water supply.

How Does Drinking Water Become Contaminated?

Water that’s safe to drink should ideally be clear with no odor or funny taste. One way to tell if water is contaminated is to look for turbidity, or cloudiness. While cloudy water isn’t necessarily dangerous to your health, it could signal the presence of unsafe pathogens or chemicals.

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