Bacteria are not disease producing organisms themselves,
but are used as an indicator of disease producing organisms.
When coliform bacteria are present, this is an indication
that the water source may have been contaminated by
surface water, septic system effluent, unsanitary water
treatment equipment and may contain disease producing
organisms. Chlorination is the best method for eliminating
bacteria from the water supply.
Color may be caused by dissolved organic material from
decaying vegetation and/or certain inorganic material
such as iron or manganese. While color is not objectionable
from a health standpoint, its presence is aesthetically
objectionable and suggests that the water needs appropriate
Odor in water can be caused by organic compounds, inorganic
salts or dissolved gases. These materials may come
from domestic, agricultural or natural sources. Water
should be free of any objectionable odor.
Turbidity is the presence of suspended material such
as clay, silt, organic, inorganic and biological materials.
Turbidities in excess of 5 units are detectable in
a glass of water and are usually objectionable for
aesthetic reasons. The most common method of removing
turbidity is with a filter system.
pH is a measure of the acid or alkaline content of
water. Water with a low pH (acidic) is corrosive to
plumbing and may cause leaching of toxic metals such
as lead or copper into the water supply. An acid neutralizer
can be used to effectively raise the pH to reduce corrosion.
Nitrate Nitrogen can be caused by natural decomposition
of organic matter, agricultural fertilizers, or waste
disposal. High levels of nitrates can indicate a potential
health risk of methemoglobinemia
(blue baby syndrome), especially to infants. Reverse
osmosis or ion exchange resins can remove nitrates.
Sulfates appear in natural waters. Elevated levels
may cause an unpleasant medicinal taste, gastrointestinal
distress and may impart a "rotten egg" odor.
Chlorides are found in all water supplies. When sodium
is also present (from road salt run-off or water softener
backwash), water may have a salty taste. High concentrations
of chlorides may corrode pipes.
Sodium levels of water may be a health risk to those
persons with hypertension, heart, kidney or liver disease.
The usual low sodium diet allows 28mg/L in the drinking
water. Elevated sodium levels are likely to be seen
from water softeners, road salt run-off or sewage contamination.
Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can discolor fixtures and
laundry and may impart a metallic taste to the water.
Iron is frequently found in water because of the large
amounts present in the soil. Common methods for removing
iron from water are aeration or chlorination of the
water followed by filtration.
Manganese at levels greater than 0.05 mg/L may produce
a brownish black stain in laundry and dishwashers and
can impart an objectionable odor and taste. It is usually
found with iron in soil with a high mineral content.
Oxidation or water softeners are common methods of
Copper in small amounts is not considered detrimental
to health. Elevated copper levels will impart a bitter
undesirable taste and can cause gastrointestinal distress.
When water is acidic, copper can leach from piping
and leave blue-green stains on fixtures.
Hardness is an indication of calcium and magnesium
carbonate concentrations in water supplies. Hard water
is not physically harmful but causes scaling in water
lines, hot water heaters and appliances. It also reduces
the cleaning action of soap and detergents and can
leave your skin feeling dry.
Water hardness is measured
in milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million
|150 mg/l or greater:
Hard - Very Hard
Radon in well water can contribute to the indoor air
levels of radon in your home. Radon is released into
the air as water pours into sinks, tubs, and appliances.
Activities that use hot water, such as showering, can
release large amounts of radon. If your water comes
from a private well, the State of Connecticut Department
of Health Services Radon Program recommends that you
test the radon levels in your water. Radon should be
removed before it enters the house using a granulated
activated carbon (GAC) filter unit or by the use of
an aeration treatment system. More
about radon in your water.