What You Should Know About the Types of Harmful Inorganics in Our Water

November 2, 2021

Many of us are familiar with organic compounds, like bacteria, that can contaminate our drinking water. What doesn’t get talked about as much, though, are inorganic contaminants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently lists 15 inorganic contaminants that are either natural in geology or caused by human activities like mining, industry or agriculture.

Wastewater companies work tirelessly to eliminate all contaminants from our water. However, private well owners may not be protected, and accidents occur which contaminate public water beyond control. Continue reading to learn more about inorganics.

What are some inorganic contaminants?

As mentioned above, the EPA outlines 15 inorganics. Some of the most common ones include asbestos, arsenic, cyanide, fluoride, mercury, nitrate and nitrite. The maximum contaminant levels for water to be considered safe for consumption varies for each contaminant. For example, there can be up to 4 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, while the threshold for arsenic is only 0.01 milligrams per liter.

How harmful are inorganics?

Like the contaminant threshold levels, the dangers of inorganics vary, which is why wastewater companies treat our drinking water. Some inorganics can damage the liver, kidneys, nervous system, gastrointestinal system, blood, bones or skin depending on exposure. Many inorganics pose a larger threat for infants, pregnant women, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.

How can I tell if there are inorganic contaminants in my water?

City officials issue notices when public drinking water is unsafe to drink, but if you have a private well, you may be drinking dangerous water and not even realize it. Here are a few things you can do to determine if your water is safe:

  • Testing: Having your water tested is the best way to tell if you need to stop drinking your water and have it treated. There are self-test kits available, or you can send water samples to a laboratory for analysis. The EPA recommends testing your water at least once a year, but it never hurts to test more frequently, especially if there’s a chemical spill nearby or if you notice any of the following signs.
  • Odors: The first thing you may notice is that your water smells funky. For example, a metallic smell may indicate lead, mercury, copper or arsenic contamination. Some contaminants won’t have a distinct odor, but if your water smells unusual at all, we recommend having it tested.
  • Appearance: A strange appearance often goes hand in hand with a bad odor. High iron levels may turn your water orange, while manganese can turn your water dark purple or even black. As soon as you notice a change in appearance, switch to bottled water for the time being, and have yours tested.

What should I do if my water is contaminated?

Besides switching to bottled water, your first step is to notify your public officials if your water is contaminated. The government will work with local wastewater companies to come up with a solution for your problem. Some options include changing the treatment process, drilling a new well or mixing your existing supply with uncontaminated water.

To learn more about the water treatment process, reach out to Enviro-Line Co., Inc. today.

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