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Checking for Water Contaminants and Bacteria

Contaminants

Water contaminants are any form of foreign substance, which is mixed into water. Some contaminants are benign, however, some can pose serious health risks to you, your family, or animals. These harmful substances can take several forms including physical, chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants. Some of these contaminants are naturally occurring (radon, uranium, and arsenic) while others are the byproducts of land use (fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, or industrial waste). The result can be lifelong ailments.

When should I check for water contaminants?

  • Recurrent gastrointestinal illness
  • Household plumbing contains lead
  • Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich
  • Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather
  • Water softener needed to treat hardness
  • Stained plumbing or laundry fixtures
  • Objectionable taste or smell
  • Water appears cloudy, frothy or colored
  • Corrosion of pipes or plumbing
  • Rapid wear of water treatment equipment
  • Nearby areas of intensive agriculture
  • Coal or other mining operation nearby
  • Gas drilling operation nearby
  • Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near a gas station or buried fuel tank(s)
  • If your home is located near a dump, junkyard, landfill, factory or dry-cleaning business
  • If your water tastes salty

 

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 well casing.

Special circumstances:

  • Is anyone in your home pregnant or nursing a newborn?
  • Are there any unexplained illnesses in your family?
  • Have you experienced any changes in your water taste, smell, color or clarity? You may need to test more than once a year.
  • Have you had a chemical or fuel spill or leak near your water supply?

 

Are you considering a home water treatment unit?

Find out what is in your water. Be informed so you can make the right decisions.

Water-Related Diseases: Arsenicosis – World Health Organization
Basic Information about Arsenic in Drinking Water – Environmental Protection Agency – 9/17/13
Arsenic in Drinking Water – Natural Resource Defense Council – 2/12/09
Radium and Your Drinking Water – The Department of the Environment, State of Maryland – 7/9/15
Basic Information about the Radionuclides Rule – Environmental Protection Agency – 3/6/12
MTBE – American Cancer Society – 7/17/14
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) – Environmental Protection Agency – 11/15/14