Professional Water Technology Inc The Drinking Water Specialists

over 40 years water purification experience

water contaminants and your health

Water Problems

     Does your water have taste and/or odor problems? Objectionable Chlorine and trihalomethanes the by-product of chlorination? Are there chemical contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, oil, PCB’s, TCE, gasoline and their derivatives (MTBE) … in your water? Is there bacteria such as giardia, cryptosporidium. Is there radon and lead from household plumbing?
     More and more we are made aware of the negative environmental changes which affect our health through the water we drink, cook with, and bath in.
     Most Americans ingest trace amounts of harmful contaminants through their drinking water daily. These contaminants can have adverse health effects. Some contaminants are carcinogenic which can affect the nervous system and retard learning in children.

Technical Information -Types of Contaminants

     The EPA, in the Safe Drinking Water Act, identifies two major groups of contaminants – PRIMARY contaminants and SECONDARY contaminants. PRIMARY contaminants are those which may directly affect an individual's health. SECONDARY contaminants are those which have aesthetic affects on the quality of life.

Primary (Health) Contaminants

1. INORGANIC CHEMICALS: This group includes metals such as: lead, mercury, metalloids; arsenic and selenium, as well as non-metals' nitrate, nitrite and fluoride.                                                                                                                                                
2. VOLATILE ORGANIC CHEMICALS:This group includes petroleum based products, chemicals and industrial solvents, and all have the potential to be dangerous to our health. Most are considered carcinogenic or probable carcinogens. Benzene, ethylbenzene and methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether (MTBE) are ingredients in gasoline and other fuels. TCE and PCE are used in dry cleaning solvents and cleansers. Trihalomethanes are the by-products of chlorine and chloramine used in public water supplies to kill bacteria.
3. PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES:These are the most misunderstood and publicized group of chemical contaminants as well as the most diverse. There are thousands of different pesticides and herbicides that are listed and registered in the US and many have a long environmental life span.
4. BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINANTS:This group consists of coliform bacteria, giardia cysts, cryptosporidium and some viruses.

Secondary (Aesthetic) Contaminants

1. HARDNESS in the form of dissolved calcium and magnesium can shorten the life span of water appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters. It also increases the amount of soap and detergents needed for cleaning tasks.
2. METALS such as iron and manganese may cause staining of fixtures and laundry. Manganese may also contribute to unpleasant odors and taste.
3. Ph, the measurement of acidity in water, is considered within normal range by EPA between 6.5 to 8.5. Ph below 6.5 can result in costly plumbing repairs and ingestion of heavy metals (lead, copper, etc.) when drinking the water.

Examples of Possible Health Effects-

INORGANIC CHEMICALS
POSSIBLE HEALTH EFFECTS
Arsenic
Malignant tumors on skin and in lungs. Adverse affects to the nervous system. May cause disorientation.
Lead
Damage to the nervous system, kidneys, reproductive systems; Learning disabilities in children.
Mercury
Kidney impairment and adverse effects to the nervous system
Nitrate / Nitrite
Potential poisoning in infants, elderly and the immune-compromised.
ORGANIC CHEMICALS
POSSIBLE HEALTH EFFECTS
Trihalomethanes (ex: Bromoform and Chloroform)
May affect the central nervous system, muscles and reproductive systems. Potential carcinogen.
Benezene
Associated with cancer, leukemia, and anemia.
Ethylbenzene
Effects eyes, upper respiratory system, skin, central nervous system, liver and kidneys.
Toluene
Narcosis, irritation to eyes and respiratory system, affects nervous system, liver and kidneys.
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)
Probable carcinogen, new studies are ongoing. Irritant to respiratory system and mucous membranes.
Xylene
Mucous membrane irritant, lung congestion, effects liver and kidneys.
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Central nervous system affects, and confirmed animal carcinogen.
Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
Central nervous system affects and loss of coordination. Probable carcinogen.
Atrazine
Affects nervous, respiratory systems, heart and liver. Possible carcinogen.

 

 

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