While most people welcome a glass of cool water on a hot day, many may take the water that comes from their tap for granted. While Americans enjoy some of the safest drinking water in the world, the Centers for Disease Control receive notification of roughly 4,000 illnesses related to contaminants in water each year. A little knowledge about types of contaminants and how water gets contaminated can help ensure safe drinking water in every household.
The quality of drinking water may depend on whether its source is regulated by the city or is a private well. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public drinking water systems across the country, roughly one in seven people in the United States get their household water from small, unregulated community water systems or private wells. These communities and private individuals are responsible for ensuring the safety of their water.
Types of Water Contaminants
Water has the ability to dissolve almost anything that makes contact with it, which means it is easily contaminated by water-soluble substances like minerals. Because of its contact with rock formations found in wells and water systems, tap water often contains calcium, iron, manganese, and magnesium. In addition, exposure to pipes and plumbing fixtures results in tap water that contains lead, copper, and iron. Compounds in the atmosphere like gases and dust also make their way into the water supply.
Although many households across the country rely on city sewer systems, some depend on individual septic tanks buried in their own yard. Failed septic tanks lead to wastewater getting into the ground, which can result in contaminated water coming from the tap. Wastewater contains bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that can present a danger to human health if ingested.
Fortunately, a variety of companies offer full-range water testing packages designed specifically for well water or city water. People can also purchase kits to test for specific contaminants in water. With this information, people can feel better knowing their drinking water is safe or take immediate steps to correct any problems.
Drinking Water Safety
To ensure members in your household are drinking clean, safe water, take advantage of these tips:
- Learn where your water comes from. If it comes from a private well, test water for contaminants.
- Use a good-quality home-filtration system to remove metals and other contaminants from public water.
- Find out if you have a septic tank. If so, maintain it properly to prevent failure and potential illness.