Are all water sources the same? Of course not. Water is such a basic material that we usually don’t think about the importance of its quality and how we can ensure it.
Our body contains between 60-80% water, depending on our age and physique. Water is so essential that we cannot survive more than 3 days without it. So, is it enough that we drink water without realizing its quality?
Guaranteeing the quality of the water we drink goes hand in hand with drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. For this to happen, is it better to test the water or use a home water purifier?
Find out more about it below.
The word “contaminant” is defined as a physical, radiological, biological, or chemical substance that resides in water.
Water is a natural resource and many times we do not think about the quality of the water we drink. In our modern industrial world, people use pollutants every day, most of which end up in our rivers, lakes, and aquifers. These contaminants include solvents, pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents, herbicides, pesticides, and much more.
Among these contaminants there are microplastics, which are small pieces of plastic (synethic polymer materials or fibers) less than 5mm in size. Wastewater treatment removes most of these particles but millions still make it through the filters into the water supply. A 2017 study conducted by Orb, a US-based non-for-profit media organisation, sampled tap water from more than a dozen countries globally and found that 83% of the samples were contaminated with plastic fibers.
We are unaware of the propensity of all of these contaminants to enter our water supply. However, it is possible to assess the quality of the water we use at home.
Although we may be lucky enough to have access to safe drinking water at home, we can never be sure that what ends up in our glass is 100% free of contaminants that can impact our health. That is why it is important to have a high-quality home water filter.
We know that visually observing the water we drink is not enough. Although water may be clear and odourless, there are contaminants that are transparent and odourless. Furthermore, drinking bottled water is not a viable solution, considering its high cost in the long term, the inconvenience of carrying and storing the bottles, the environmental impact of the plastic generated, and the fact that bottled waters are also a source of microplastics. So how can we detect them?
A good and simple way to test the water at home is to test the pH levels of the water (it’s level of alkalinity or acidity). The pH range for drinking water should be between 6.5-8.5, according to the WHO. However, if you do not have the time to carry out a simple chemical test, there are other clear warning signs about the quality of the water in your home and we will tell you about them here:
One of the most obvious signs that the water you use at home is contaminated is if it has a colour tone like rusty or brown instead it should be transparent. These colours indicate that there are oxidized particles in the water, in the presence of manganese or iron. Alternatively, if the water has a bluish or greenish hue, it may be copper.
If the water in your home has a strong odour, such as that of rotten eggs this is a sure sign that it is contaminated and you should test it. This odour usually comes from the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, decaying organic material under the soil, or the presence of bacteria.
If your water tastes metallic when you test it, it is likely that the water system you are using has a high concentration of minerals. Some of the more common mineral water contaminants include manganese and iron.
The presence of chlorine in the water means that it is treated water. Chlorine is used to kill any bacteria present in the water; disinfecting it from any harmful microorganisms. However, it is not recommended to disinfect drinking water with chlorine. Chlorine can actually do a lot of damage to your body.
Related: Microplastics in Water Bottles – How Dangerous Is It?
As mentioned earlier, contaminants in water can come from many sources. In fact, the source can greatly influence the quality of the water you drink at home.
It is recommended to test the water if the supply is located next to a leaking septic tank or gas tank. Also, if there are cattle nearby, testing the water can help detect the presence of pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
And if you live in an area near a gas drilling company, chemical plant, gas station, mining operation, salty road, landfill, or junkyard, that’s all the more reason you should. Check the water quality in your home. Test your water for the presence of sodium, barium, strontium, chloride, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
If you or someone in your family continues to experience gastrointestinal illness, you should test your water for coliform bacteria. Any odour or bad taste in your drinking water at home may be due to the presence of heavy metals or hydrogen sulfide. Pipe corrosion could mean lead is present.
If the appliances and water-using appliances in your home wear out quickly, you should test your water for high levels of corrosion. It may seem like a lot, but better safe than sorry.
For all these reasons, in addition to testing the water, AquaDrink recommend purchasing a home water purifier in order to be as sure as possible that your drink is free of contaminants.
The methods for assessing the quality of your indoor water are:
The law establishes that the water supply entity must carry out regular controls on the quality of the water supplies in each zone.
As mentioned above, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the type of contaminant you’re looking to find in order to get the right kit.
The home water test kit generally uses a series of strips, which contain what are known as reagents. This is a great way to test the quality of the water in your home, as it’s fast, effective, and not to mention, dirt cheap. You can find them in household stores, stores that sell pool products, and also online.
All you need to do is expose each strip to room-temperature water for 5 seconds. You can verify the results by using the chart to determine whether or not chemicals are present, as well as the level of each chemical in your water.
First, we must clarify that testing the quality of your water through a laboratory can be quite expensive. However, it is considered one of the most accurate ways to know for sure if there are any chemicals or contaminants in your water.
In general, there are three main types of laboratory tests to ensure the quality of drinking water:
Organoleptic and Inorganic: Color, turbidity, pH, Conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids, Chlorides, Sulfates, Nitrates, Nitrites, Total Hardness, Total Metals, Total Cyanide
Bacteriological: Fecal Coliforms, Total Coliforms, Escherichia Coli, Heterotrophic Bacteria and Free Living Organisms
Parasitological: Helminth eggs and larvae; protozoan cysts
While lab test results may take a few days or up to a week to arrive, you can be sure that the results are complete and correct.
If you decide to do the laboratory test on your own, you have to consider that someone would have to analyze the results and make a report, which not only lists the contaminants but also indicates any health risks. You could do it with the right information, or pay an additional amount to the laboratory to have it done by a specialist.
Related: 10 Benefits of Drinking Tap Water versus Bottled Water?
Finding out what’s in your water before you actually consume it is a safety measure we all need to follow. We can never be sure what we are putting into our bodies, so it is best that we use all available tests.
If you live in an area without a regular supply of drinking water, or if your water source is not municipal, it is highly recommended that you carry out regular tests. Any unusual indicators, such as an upset stomach, recurring digestive problems, smelly water, and rust-coloured stains on your clothes, are all red flags to test the water immediately. And as we already mentioned, better safe than sorry! Especially when it comes to your health and that of your family.
If you are concerned about the quality of the water in your home, the best way to rest easy is to have a water dispenser or any other form of high-quality water filter for your home.
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