What’s coming through your tap? With the many possible water contaminants that exist, how can you be sure that the water coming through your faucet is safe to drink? In this article, we will detail warning signs that your water may be unsafe, research you can conduct to learn more about the safety of your water, and ways to test your home’s water supply.
Signs of contaminated tap water
Do you suspect there is a problem with your tap water? Are you concerned about the taste or smell of your water? Some of these water abnormalities may be signs that your water is contaminated. If your water is cloudy or an unusual color, it may be contaminated with minerals or rust. If your water has a strange smell, it may be contaminated with microorganisms or chemicals like bleach or chlorine. If your tap water leaves stains or deposits on your silverware or faucet fixtures, this trend may be a sign of contamination by copper, brass, or other metals. Finally, film or sediment in standing water may also represent a problem with your tap water. If you suspect there may be a problem with your tap water, or if you are merely unsure, it’s important to do your research. And since many contaminants can only be detected using expensive equipment, or cannot be detected at all below a certain level (that’s right), you can never really know what is in your tap water unless you treat/ purify it yourself.
Researching your water safety
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ensures that you are entitled to know whether or not your drinking water is safe. Because of this provision, there are steps you can take to research the safety of your tap water. Your water provider is required to give you a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) detailing the safety of your home’s tap water. To check this report, you can call your water provider or check online. The CCR details which contaminants have been tested in your area’s tap water and what the levels may be for each of these contaminants. Another helpful source may be the Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database. This database can help you track down water quality information for your area. Finally, the EPA’s Drinking Water Watch program can also help you track down information about water quality in your area, including water safety issues and steps taken to remedy them.
Testing your own water
If you still suspect there may be a problem with your tap water, there are several ways you can test the quality of your home’s tap water. You can hire a professional or water testing company to test your home’s water safety. To find a reputable testing company, you can call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline or visit the Water Quality Association’s webpage, which provides links to water testing companies in your state. There are also some DIY solutions available. Companies like PurTest and DiscoverTesting sell at-home kits to test your water safety. Note that many less-common contaminants are difficult to detect, and require testing by a professional lab that has the right equipment, such mass spectrometers.
It is important to be aware of what’s in your tap water. Each of these strategies can help you stay informed about the content of your drinking water. If you discover a problem with your tap water, see our other articles for some of the strategies to improve the safety of your drinking water.