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Impurities found in drinking water:

There are a number of impurities that may be present in your drinking water- its type and quantities will determine whether it is a risk to your health, or just an inconvenience.


The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines require that tap water “should contain no harmful concentrations of chemicals or pathogenic micro-organisms, and ideally it should be aesthetically pleasing in regard to appearance, taste and odour”.


However, contamination still does happen- from Oakley, whose water supply is contaminated by fire fighting foam to Sydney’s drinking water crisis where Giardia and Cryptosporidium contaminated the cities supply throughout 1998.


Furthermore, even if your water is safe when it leaves the reservoir, there are a number of ways it can be contaminated- including from your own piping!


Contaminants that are found in water include:


  • Copper:

Copper is safe in low levels and generally can’t be tasted. However, it is common for older households to have copper based plumbing systems- these can corrode and leach copper into your drinking water over time.


Copper contamination may be indicated if blue or green rings or staining are becoming apparent in your sinks or tap ware. Higher levels of copper (which pose a health concern) will cause discolouration of your water, a metallic smell, and an unpleasant taste. Filtration can remove copper.


  • Pesticides and Herbicides:

Pesticides can make their way into freshwater, and their cumulative effects are not fully understood. Whilst they are tested for, the Australian standards for acceptable pesticide quantities are much higher than those of the EU, which is certainly concerning! As such, filtration is a good option if your water originates from an area with intensive agriculture.


  • Nitrates:

Drinking water that is sourced from aquifers may have nitrate contamination. In low levels this is safe, however in higher levels can be a risk to babies less than three months old, causing ‘blue baby syndrome’. If nitrates are present in extremely high quantities it can also create health issues for pregnant women, and for those with a rare metabolic condition. Nitrates must be filtered out (i.e. via reverse osmosis), as boiling the water is not an effective treatment.


  • Microbes:

Microbes including Giardia, Legionella, Cryptosporidium, and Amoeba can pose a serious health risk should they contaminate the water supply. They are often present when faecal contamination of water occurs, and induce gastrointestinal illness in those infected. A recent outbreak in New Zealand left three dead and caused 5000 people to fall ill. Most common microbes (although not all) can be filtered out of drinking water.


  • Lead

A recent study found that 8% of Australian homes they tested had dangerously high lead levels of lead in their drinking water. This was largely due to their brass tap-ware. As lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, they recommended installing filters on their taps, or swapping them out entirely.


  • Arsenic:

Arsenic is tasteless, colourless, and odourless so can be difficult to detect in drinking water. Whilst small quantities are almost always present, in high quantities it is poisonous. Arsenic levels are tightly monitored for town supply, however can be an issue on private bores, due to either industrial contamination or naturally high levels in the soil. Testing can determine if arsenic is an issue in your water. If you know (or suspect) your water supply could be contaminated, filtration options are available.


Filtering contaminants from your drinking water is the smart choice for ensuring the health of you and your family. We recommend that you learn more about the range of filters available, and investigate which option best suits the issues faced in your area.







About the Author

Amanda Acuña an influential Mom Blogger. She created MommyMandy as an online resource to the parenting community. She is married to her high school sweetheart and has three daughters, ages 16,13, 6 and a son who is 3. They currently reside in Texas.

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