Clean tap water must be accessible to everyone. Contaminants including mercury, copper, microorganisms, and different types of disinfectants, fertilizers, and medications can get into your water supply and cause serious illnesses like cholera, malaria, lead poisoning and much more. If you are worried about the purity of your drinking water, there are three ways to test it:
- You can purchase a water purity testing kit online or at most hardware stores for about $40. These tests typically measure levels of chlorine, nitrates and nitrites, and minerals such as iron, copper, and lead. It will also check the hardness of your water. The kits are easy to use, you simply insert a strip into a cup of water and use a provided chart to determine the water purity.
- You can also call your water provider to ask about regular water tests. U.S. water utilities are required to perform a series of tests on a regular basis. You can obtain these results by contacting your provider.
- Alternatively, you can check with your local health department to find laboratories that can perform the tests you need. You’ll mail them a few water samples for testing and receive the results shortly after.
If testing your water purity shows that your water is dirty or contaminated, you may need to buy a water filter or contact your water supplier about your options. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of clean water, what may be causing contamination, and how to prevent it.
Health Risks of Contaminated Water
Most developed countries have strict guidelines for treating water and keeping people safe from contaminants. But we learned from the Flint Water Crisis that our water supplies can become contaminated and result in thousands of deaths if a community’s water treatment system isn’t working properly.
Because water is essential to all life, it is absolutely necessary that we all have access to clean, safe, and free drinking water. Water contaminants can result in health problems such as neurological disorders, gastrointestinal illnesses, reproductive issues, and a general increased risk of illness and disease. The top ten contaminants to cause these health issues include:
- Hepatitis A
Contaminated water can devastate families and communities with serious illnesses and deaths. Our water treatment systems and home filtration systems are generally very effective, but sometimes backflow in the water pipes can cause unexpected contamination.
What is backflow, how is it bad for your water, and how do you prevent it? Backflow is the term for when your water supply begins to flow in the opposite direction it’s supposed to. An issue occurs when two different sources of water, like potable and non-potable irrigation water, share a cross connection in the pipes, backflow can cause non-potable water to contaminate the pipes and water that’s supposed to be clean. If your water at home is dirty or contaminated, backflow could be the issue.
Backflow can be caused by a number of issues like a toilet being installed improperly, a break in the water main, or overuse of the water supply. What’s important is to identify the issue and fix it or prevent it from happening altogether. If you have a sprinkler irrigation system, you are required to get a backflow prevention device installed and checked every year. Contact your plumber or a backflow prevention specialist to ensure backflow water isn’t an issue.
Fixing Contaminated Water
It’s unrealistic to think that bottled water can solve our problems. Bottled water is expensive and producing and shipping is damaging to the environment. In fact, eighty percent of the plastic water bottles used, end up in landfills. We’re all better off dealing with the root issue and purifying our water.
A simple home filtration system can be extremely effective for most water contaminants like heavy metals, organic pollutants, bacteria and parasites, and even some types of gas. You can have a home water filter installed so every point of water access in your house is pre-filtered. Or you can use faucet, pitcher, and bottle filters for drinking water.
A water softener can also condition your water to help purify it and make it healthier for household use. Conditioned water is better for your skin, it makes your cleaning solutions more effective, leaves appliances and kitchen tools untarnished, and is healthier for your body. Consider these fixes if your water isn’t clean enough. But if you suspect contamination, be sure to contact your local public water supply company and learn more about safe drinking water.