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Here you will find some brief explanations of different contaminants you might encounter with your water. This page is meant to be a starting point for our customers and is certainly not an exhaustive discussion or complete description of all possible contaminants. We encourage all of our customers to seek out as much information as possible when making decisions regarding the health of you and your family.

Antimony: A heavy metal used as a flame retardant, this metal is used in batteries and glass or ceramics. In the short term, exposure can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is a known carcinogen with long term exposure.


Arsenic: A common cause of arsenic contamination is industrial pollution and local erosion leaching into the water distribution system. Long term exposure has been linked to many cancers such as bladder and lung cancer.


Asbestos: Used to produce heat resistant fibers which are used in thousands of products including the cement in the pipes used to disperse water in some cities and towns. A short term exposure is not seen as dangerous, but cancer is a concern with long term exposure.


Barium: A metal, this contaminant is used in making components for electronic equipment, bleaches, dyes, ceramics and glass. Barium is used by well drilling operations which can release the contaminant directly into the ground. Contamination of the ground water can lead to contamination of the water supply. Long and short term contamination are considered hazardous by many experts.


Copper: This contaminant is used in plumbing materials for homes and commercial buildings. Copper is necessary as a nutrient for human health when ingested in small amounts, However, in larger amounts, exposure to copper can cause gastrointestinal upset. Long term exposure can lead to serious liver and kidney damage.


Iron: Not considered a health hazard by the scientific community at large, iron is considered a secondary contaminant as it gives food and water and unpleasant, metallic taste. Iron contamination can turn water reddish brown and cloudy when the water is exposed to air.


Cadmium: Used in batteries, enamels for bakeware and metal plating, this contaminant produces nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, renal failure and liver damage. Long term exposure can result in serious kidney, liver, bone and blood impairment.


Fluoride: Used in producing aluminum, fertilizers, bricks, tiles, ceramics, this chemical is also used extensively within the dental industry. A type of fluoride is used in many municipal water programs. This means every house and apartment which is part of the municipal water system is receiving fluorinated water. There has been some suggestion that those with weakened kidneys may be at a higher risk for problems with fluorinated water, however long term studies are insufficient to draw conclusions.


Lead: Contamination usually occurs through lead pipes which are part of the plumbing system. Many studies have been done regarding lead poisoning due to the lead in older paints and in older water pipes. In the short term, lead exposure can induce serious blood chemistry problems and substantial delays in the physical and mental development of children and babies. Long term exposure has been shown to result in increased risks of stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.


Mercury: This contaminant is used in fluorescent light bulbs and some batteries. Water contamination is often sourced to discharge from refineries and runoff from landfills and croplands. Short and long term exposure can lead to kidney damage.


Nitrate/nitrite: This chemical is most commonly used as a fertilizer. Runoff from croplands and dispersal into the water table from landfills are a common source of drinking water contamination. Short term exposure can cause serious illnesses in young children. Nitrites can lead to problems with the oxygenation of blood which can lead to death. Long term exposure can cause hemorrhaging of the spleen and diuresis.


Selenium: This contaminant is predominantly used in glass, rubber, emulsions for photography and electrical appliances such as photocopiers. Selenium is an important nutrient when ingested naturally in small doses. However, large doses or prolonged exposure can cause nerve damage, severe fatigue and irritability, hair loss, kidney damage, liver damage and circulatory problems. Selenium, like many trace minerals, can accumulate in the tissues of the body.


Thallium: Mostly used in the manufacture of electronic research equipment, thallium is a trace mineral. In the short term, exposure can cause gastrointestinal upset and irritation and nerve damage. Blood chemistry changes, liver, kidney, intestinal and testicular damage and hair loss are some of the risks associated wish long term exposure.


Bacteria: This contaminant can come from a wide range of sources. E Coli can contaminate drinking water systems from sewage treatment facilities and animal waste contamination. This type of bacteria is easily washed into the drinking water system during times of heavy precipitation. Contaminated runoff is rinsed into rivers and lakes and is then pulled into municipal water systems. Many different parasites and bacteria can find their way into the public water system this way. While some cause only minor, yet still unpleasant, symptoms such as gastrointestinal upset and nausea, some can cause life threatening illness.


Radon: This is a radioactive gas which may cause cancer. Radon in the soil poses the greatest threat to drinking water. There is some evidence pointing to radon in drinking water leading to an increase in cancer rates with a lifetime exposure.


Chlorine: This chemical is used to eradicate pathogens in drinking water, but it is not known how effective the process is at this time. There are no good studies on the long term effects of chlorine in drinking water and more study is necessary to understand the long term impacts on human health. It is known that chlorine gives water an unpleasant taste and there is some evidence of toxicity in long term exposures.


Chloramine: Used in much the same way as chlorine to disinfect water, the long and short term effects on human health are very similar to chlorine. This contaminant gives water an unpleasant, rotten egg odor. Corrosion problems can occur if the chloramine in the water is in high enough concentrations. Some people have experienced nausea with high chloramine concentrations and in extreme cases, this can lead to death.