Top Ten Household Water Problems
Here’s a list of the top concerns people have about the water coming into their house. Scroll down for a glossary of terms.
Source of water: The town or city water system, piped in
Cryptosporidium and Giardia
Source of water: Well on the property
Rotten Egg Smell (hydrogen sulfide)
An opinionated glossary of the above terms
Acidity: Acidity, or the pH of water, is measured on a scale of 0-14. 7 is considered neutral. A pH value below 7.0 is acidic. It can cause corrosion of copper plumbing, brass fixtures, heating elements, and steel tanks. This results in a blue-green stain on sinks and tubs. The Acidity per se is not a health risk, but if minerals leach into the water from your pipes, that could potentially cause problems.
Chlorine: A chemical used as a disinfectant, it is also a respiratory irritant and can cause irritation to the skin. Not that good for the insides of us, either.
Cryptosporidium: a microscopic parasite that resides in human intestines and can become waterborne if drinking water is contaminated by sewage, such as when a storm drain backs up. It causes diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “during the past two decades, crypto has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease within humans in the United States. The parasite may be found in drinking water and recreational water in every region of the United States and throughout the world”.
Dirt: particles of earth that are good for growing vegetables in but are not appropriate for drinking or bathing. Dirt plus water = mud.
Giardia: another parasite, originally found in mountain streams and now found in the common water supply. Causes problems similar to those caused by Cryptosporidium.
Hardness: Minerals dissolved in water, primarily calcium and magnesium. To a lesser extent manganese and iron may be found as components of hardness. Hardness is not a heath concern, but it can cause household problems such as soap scum on tubs and showers, mineral deposits on dishes and glassware, and reduction of the efficiency of devices that heat water. As hardness deposits build in thickness, they act like insulation, reducing the efficiency of heat transfer.
Iron: The presence of iron in water is not considered a health hazard. However, an excessive amount of iron causes red, brown, or yellow staining of laundry, glassware, dishes and household fixtures such as bathtubs and sinks. The water may also taste metallic and smell bad. Pipes and fixtures can also get clogged over time.
Manganese: Manganese is not a health problem. Complaints arise with high levels of manganese in household water because of the brownish staining of laundry. There may be a change in the taste of the drinking water too.
Rotten egg smell (hydrogen sulfide): Hydrogen sulfide is an odiferous gas found in some water. It can be especially smelly when the water is hot, and it will alter the taste of food and beverages like tea and coffee. It can also be corrosive to metal parts of washing machines and the plumbing.
Trihalomethanes: Chemical by-products of the chlorination process, particularly if there is organic matter in the water being chlorinated. THMs include four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dribromochloromethane, and bromoform. In 2005 the EPA set standards for lower amounts in the water supply, having concluded that they cause an increase in cancer risks.
Turbidity: the lack of clarity of water. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness because of the suspended matter in the water. It can be an indicator of disease-causing organisms in the water, but may simply be from the benign presence of sediment.