The city of Flint, Michigan, recently made national headlines when the EPA revealed residents had been drinking water contaminated with lead. What’s worse, city officials knew about it and did little to stop it. When you can’t trust government officials to assure the quality of your drinking water, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
Water Testing Kits 101
A quick internet search yields dozens of results for testing water quality. Each kit is designed to test for different contaminants from various water sources.
Well Water Test Kits
If you get water from a private well, choose a kit that tests for the most common well water contaminants: iron, copper, bacteria, pesticides, lead, nitrates, pH, and hardness.
EPA-Approved Test Kits
The Environmental Protection Agency offers kits that test for bacteria, lead, and pesticides as well as iron levels, alkalinity, chlorine, copper, nitrates, and pH.
Some kits are do-it-yourself models, equipped with everything you need for testing. More comprehensive kits require that you send water samples into a lab, where results will be mailed to you within six business days.
Why Should I Test My Water?
Water quality is a central feature of your family’s health, and contaminants can adversely affect you in several ways:
- High levels of lead in the water are associated with heavy metal toxicity and neurological problems in children.
- High iron concentration in the water can cause gastrointestinal issues, particularly if you take iron supplements.
- Over time, drinking water contaminated with arsenic can lead to cancer in the bladder, lungs, prostate, kidneys, and liver.
- Radon is a naturally occurring substance that can lead to cancer when it contaminates your water supply.
- When your water’s pH isn’t within normal range, it can lead to corrosion of your water pipes, releasing more heavy metals.
Warning Signs in Your Water
Many types of water contamination aren’t immediately identifiable by taste or smell. But these are signs that may signify trouble:
- A strong chlorine taste or smell may mean your water treatment plant uses high amounts of the chemical to kill microorganisms and bacteria.
- A metallic taste or orange color is a sure sign your water has too much iron.
- Smell rotten eggs? It may be a symptom of too much sulfur or bacteria.
- A musty or unusual taste or smell may be indicative of pesticides.
Other Reasons to Test Your Water
Consider testing your water if a member of your household is pregnant or less than six months old. Other reasons to test include increased turbidity (cloudiness) of your water supply, changes in color or odor, or family members experiencing recurrent episodes of gastrointestinal distress.
Water testing is relatively inexpensive and can provide your family with peace of mind. If your water is contaminated with heavy metals, bacteria, or pesticides, addressing the problem promptly can help prevent serious health consequences later.
If you have any other questions about testing your water or would like to speak to a plumbing expert, contact McLay today for more information.