How can you test water quality
Water quality is of vital importance to every human being on the planet. It is an essential component to our survival, and checking the quality of the water you and your family drink is a priority for everyone who is health conscious.
If you live in the UK, you can safely assume your drinking water is of top quality. Britain is proud to host some of the best water treatment facilities in the world. However, there have been occasions when a water supply may not be up to standard, for a variety of reasons. If you’re unsure, checking it out is always good practice. Here’s what you can do and what you need to look out for.
Home test kits
There are a wide variety of home test kits you can purchase, both from your local supermarket or online. The kits are simple to use, using rudimentary methods of testing.
Depending on the brand you buy, it can be tricky to determine whether the test kit is doing the right job. As Wikihow suggests, it’s good to know exactly what you should be checking for:
“The quality of water depends primarily on the concentration of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and the water’s pH. Chlorine aids in disinfecting; nitrates leached from fertilizers are harmful to infants; calcium and magnesium (“hardness”) can cause scale buildup in pipes; and water with very high pH levels (acidic water) can corrode fixtures.”
Knowing what to test for
Before testing your water, you first need to know some important pieces of information. There a hundreds of contaminants in water that can cause great harm. Be aware that the home test kits are not terribly accurate, and they don’t test for all possible harmful contaminants.
If there are very high levels of certain contaminants in your water, the kit may flag the problem. However, don’t expect high accuracy. Just because the kit says it’s clear, don’t treat it as a guarantee that the water is safe.
What are the most common contaminants
Nuisance bacteria – A catch-all term that refers to bacteria, even relatively harmless bacteria. The main concern is that bacteria release iron and sulfur during their life cycles, forming a biofilm on well surfaces.
Disease-Causing bacteria – Some of the most dangerous of all bacteria, causing such things as E. coli and coliform.
Iron – A yellow orangey color, this is simply an irritating contaminant, as it is prone to leaving stains on laundry and fixtures, and causes a bitter taste when drinking water.
Manganese – This creates black and sometimes purple tints in the water, staining fixtures and leaving a bitter taste.
Hydrogen sulphide (sulfur) – The smelliest of all on our list, it can be naturally occurring, and is caused by bacteria.
Hard water – In the UK, hard water areas are common, particularly in overpopulated boroughs. It’s caused by calcium carbonate (salt).
Lead – Can be caused by leaded solder and old brass plumbing components. In this case, it may be necessary to get old kitchen sinks and fittings refitted. Lead is a neurotoxin, and can cause some nasty side effects.
So, now that you know which contaminants to look out for, make sure you find the right test kit to help you determine your water supply quality.