Contaminants in Water

People are increasingly concerned about the safety of their drinking water. As improvements in analytical methods allow us to detect impurities at very low concentrations in water, water supplies once considered pure are found to have contaminants. We cannot expect pure water, but we want the safest water possible.

The health effects of some contaminants in drinking water are not well understood, but the presence of contaminants does not mean that your health will be harmed. Southwest Florida drinking water is generally of high quality and free from significant contamination. Public water supplies are tested, and regulated to ensure that our water remains free from unsafe levels of contamination. However, small private water supplies, including wells, are not regulated by drinking water standards, and the owner must take steps to test and treat the water as needed to avoid possible health risks.

What is in your drinking water? The only way to know is to have it tested.

Drinking water can become contaminated at the original water source, during treatment, or during distribution to the home.

  • If your water comes from surface water (river or lake), it can be exposed to acid rain, storm water runoff, pesticide runoff, and industrial waste. This water is cleansed somewhat by exposure to sunlight, aeration, and micro-organisms in the water.
  • If your water comes from groundwater (private wells and some public water supplies), it generally takes longer to become contaminated but the natural cleansing process also may take much longer. Groundwater moves slowly and is not exposed to sunlight, aeration, or aerobic (requiring oxygen) micro-organisms. Groundwater can be contaminated by disease-producing pathogens, leachate from landfills and septic systems, careless disposal of hazardous household products, agricultural chemicals, and leaking underground storage tanks.

Possible Health Effects

The levels of contaminants in drinking water are seldom high enough to cause acute (immediate) health effects. Examples of acute health effects are nausea, lung irritation, skin rash, vomiting, dizziness, and even death.

Contaminants are more likely to cause chronic health effects – effects that occur long after repeated exposure to small amounts of a chemical. Examples of chronic health effects include cancer, liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, damage to the immune system, and birth defects.

Evidence relating chronic health effects to specific drinking water contaminants is limited. In the absence of exact scientific information, scientists predict the likely adverse effects of chemicals in drinking water using human data from clinical reports and epidemiological studies, and laboratory animal studies.

What kind of Contaminants are in Water?

BROMINE:(BROMIDE) Bromine is found in sea water and exists as the bromide ion at a level of about 65 mg/l. Bromine has been used in swimming pools and cooling towers for disinfection, however use in drinking water is not recommended. Ethylene bromide is used as an anti-knock additive in gasoline, andmethyl bromide is a soil fumigant. Bromine is extremely reactive and corrosive, and will produce irritation and burning to exposed tissues. Over 0.05 mg/l in fresh water may indicate the presence of industrial wastes, possibly from the use of pesticides of biocides containing bromine. Bromide is extensively used in the pharmaceutical industry, and occurs normally in blood in the range of 1.5 to 50 mg/l.

TreatmentReverse Osmosis will remove 93-96% of the bromide from drinking water. Since bromine is a disinfectant, it along with the disinfection by-product can also be removed with Activated Carbon, Ultra Filtration, or Electro Dialysis.

CHLORIDE: (C1-1) is one of the major anions found in water and are generally combined with calcium, magnesium, or sodium. Since almost all chloride salts are highly soluble in water, the chloride content ranges from 10to 100 mg/l. Sea water contains over 30,000 mg/l as NaCl. Chloride is associated with the corrosion of piping because of the compounds formed with it;  for example, magnesium chloride can generate hydrochloric acid when heated. Corrosion rates and the iron dissolved into the water from piping increases as the sodium chloride content of the water is increased. The chloride ion is instrumental in breaking down passivating films which protect ferrous metals and alloys from corrosion, and is one of the main causes for the pitting corrosion of stainless steel.The SMCL (suggested maximum contaminant level) for chloride is 250 mg/lwhich is due strictly to the objectionable salty taste produced in drinking water.

TreatmentReverse Osmosis will remove 90-95% of the chlorides because of its salt rejection capabilities. Electro Dialysis and distillation are two more process which can be used to reduce the chloride content of water. Strong base anion exchanger which is the later portion of a two-column deionizer does an excellent job at removing chlorides for industrial applications.

SULFATE: (SO4) occurs in almost all natural water. Most sulfate compounds originate from the oxidation of sulfite ores, the presence of shale, and the existence of industrial wastes. Sulfate is one of the major dissolved constituents in rain. High concentrations of sulfate in drinking water causes a laxative effect when combined with calcium and magnesium, the two most common components of hardness. Bacteria that attack and reduce sulfates, causes hydrogen sulfide gas H2S to form. Sulfate has a suggested level of 250 mg/l in the Secondary Drinking Water Standards published by the US EPA. 

TreatmentReverse Osmosis will reduce the sulfate content by 97-98%. Sulfates can also be reduced with a strong base anion exchanger, which is normally the last half of a two-column deionizer.

As people hear about the possibility of contaminants in their drinking water, they worry about potential health effects. Water supplies once considered to be pure may have various contaminants, often from natural sources. These are usually at levels below those considered to be harmful.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment is used to reduce the levels of:

  • naturally occurring substances that cause the water supplies to be unhealthy or unappealing (foul tastes, smells or colors).
  • substances that have contaminated the water supply resulting in possible adverse health effects or decreased desirability.
  • total dissolved solids and suspended matter.

Whether you are looking for an R.O. System for under your sink or to supply your whole house, the systems work basically the same way. There is a pre-filter to trap the large debris or sediment in your water, protecting the workhorse of the system, the membrane.

The membrane separates the water, where the purest water goes through the membrane pores and to a storage tank while the high solids in the water are too large to fit through the pores and they are sent to drain. Then, the good water in the storage tank goes through a final filter to raise the pH and polish the water for an excellent, clean taste. Whether it’s city or well water, home or a commercial workplace.

If you are concerned, test your water. For more information on water quality, testing, and treatment, please contact Clear Water Treatment, Inc. at  239-458-5597 today!

We specialize in Water Softeners, Reverse Osmosis Systems, Carbon Filtration Systems, Water Purification, and Drinking Water Systems. Our systems eliminate hard water, chlorine, taste and odors, yellow water, and sulfuric odors.

Please feel free to give us a call at 239-458-5597 if you have additions questions we can answer or to find out how you can get on the road to cleaner, clearer, healthier water! We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to like our facebook fanpage, follow us on twitter, connect to us on linkedin, subscribe to our newsletter and blog if you haven’t already done so!


About clearwatertreatment

Clear Water Treatment will analyze your water situation and adjust your system, or advise you of any changes that you may need to make. With 30 years working with Southwest Florida water, you can be confident that you will receive an accurate assessment of your water problems and treatment solution(s) at a fair price.
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One Response to Contaminants in Water

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Water | Clear Water Blog!

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