Biggest Factors that Affect Drinking Water Quality

Jun16 By Water
Person pouring a glass of water from sink

The only thing more important than having water flow from your tap is knowing your water is safe to drink. If your home is connected to the municipal water supply, that means the Washington State Department of Health monitors your drinking water quality. The organization adjusts disinfection efforts when necessary and issues safety alerts if dangerous contaminants are detected. Consider which factors affect drinking water quality the most so you know what to watch out for.

  • Arsenic: Most arsenic in drinking water comes from natural rock formations. Water flows through arsenic-containing rocks, dissolving and transporting this chemical to underground aquifers, streams, and rivers. From there, arsenic can enter the drinking water supply.
  • Chromium: This metallic element occurs naturally in rocks, animals, plants, and soils. The EPA is continuing to evaluate the risk of drinking water with low levels of chromium.
  • Copper: Industrial pollution, domestic wastewater, and the erosion of copper-bearing rocks all increase copper levels in the municipal water supply. Copper can also enter the water as old plumbing corrodes.
  • Lead: Lead in drinking water usually comes from household plumbing or municipal distribution lines. Lead poisoning is particularly harmful to children because it can cause behavior and learning problems.
  • Nitrate: Rain and irrigation systems can introduce fertilizer, manure, and liquid waste from septic tanks to the groundwater supply, allowing nitrate to contaminate the drinking water. Infants and older adults are most at risk for health problems associated with high nitrate exposure.
  • Bacteria and parasites: Microorganisms such as coliform and cryptosporidium can enter the water supply if contaminated with human or animal feces. Consuming water with these pathogens can cause digestive distress.
  • Chemicals: Grease-proof and water-proof coatings are useful in food packaging and textile production, but if these chemicals enter the drinking water, they can cause serious health concerns.
  • Total dissolved solids (TDS): Any organic or inorganic matter dissolved in the water contributes to the total dissolved solids. The maximum allowed concentration of TDS for drinking water is 500 parts per million (ppm).
  • Disinfection byproducts (DBPs): Water treatment plants add chlorine and other disinfecting products to maintain water quality and protect public health. Unfortunately, disinfection byproducts can enter the water, potentially causing liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems.
  • Water hardness: Hard water has more dissolved calcium and magnesium than soft water. While drinking hard water won’t hurt you, it can affect the taste. The minerals also leave behind a chalky residue in plumbing appliances and fixtures, potentially shortening their lifespan. In addition, showering in hard water leads to dry, irritated skin and brittle, lifeless hair.

Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating has been helping Seattle-area homes and businesses with their plumbing needs for over 20 years. We are well-equipped to service every part of your plumbing system, from water filter installation to toilet repair to drain cleaning. Our superior services are affordable and reliable, with your satisfaction guaranteed. Contact us at (206) 350-0079 to request plumbing services with us today.

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