Safe drinking water is an important aspect of leading a healthy life. Governments and municipalities all around the world are trying their best to improve sanitation and the quality of drinking water. It is your duty to take the necessary measures to ensure that you are consuming safe drinking water.
The first step in this process is to test your water, by testing the quality of water supply at its very source, you have better chances to guard ourselves against any contaminants.
The Environment Protection Agency states that contaminants can be of four types: physical, chemical, biological, and radiological. Anything other than water molecules is defined as a contaminant in the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). Further, testing will isolate contaminants that have adverse health effects.
Testing Well Water
Most households which pay their own municipal water bill get an annual quality report called Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This is a comprehensive report that shows a summary of how safe your drinking water is. If there are any contaminants in your tap water that is above the government cutoffs, the report will inform you of these irregularities. If any contaminants are found in your tap water, it is your duty to ensure that you learn about the health risks that these contaminants pose. You must also check with your local water supplier to be informed about the measures that are being taken to fix the problem.
If you are using well water, you will not receive a Consumer Confidence Report. In such a case, it is your responsibility to get your tap water tested. There are many do-it-yourself test kits available in the market, but the authenticity and accuracy of these test kits can be questionable.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that people use certified labs for testing tap water instead of using do-it-yourself kits. There are lots of labs listed on EPA.gov for these purposes, it would be advisable for people to choose among these certified labs. The cost of testing ranges from $50 – $400 depending on the use of a home test kit or mail way to a lab.
In 1986, the government banned the use of lead pipes in the new US plumbing system, but many lead pipes still exist all over the country. The existing lead pipes predate the ban, and the continuous use of such pipes can lead to increase in lead content in your drinking water. If your house has old plumbing systems, it is better to check the pipes and get it changed if has lead in it.
Use of Water Filters
After testing your water for any contaminants, the next step is to choose the appropriate water filter to ensure that your tap water is free of contamination. There are many types of filters that are most commonly used:
1) Reverse Osmosis filter: This filter is used in case there is high levels of contamination in the water. The use of this filter will remove bacteria, lead, arsenic, and other chemical and physical contaminants from the water. Most commonly it is installed under your sink, takes up a lot of space, requires additional plumbing, and is pricey.
2) Carbon Filter: This filter is used where there the contamination is less serious, mostly to improve the taste of water and keep it odor-free. This is not sufficient for well water and not needed, as well water commonly tastes very good.
There are many other that will be acceptable for home use, such as our current favorite the Aquasana 3-Stage AQ-5300. Reviews of this Aquasana water filter note the ease of its installation as well as its adherence to important water quality standards.
Well Water Testing Frequency
The CDC notes that you should have your well water tested any time you notice any significant change in it. Any new found taste or color (for example) should trigger a round of testing. Additionally, any news of problems in your area should be a cause for testing.
Absent of any changes or news, yearly water testing from a certified lab is usually considered sufficient.
Recommendations can vary by region, but if you have historically had good water it’s common to test for bacteria/coliform once a year and then to do a thorough test for lead, nitrite/nitrate, sodium, iron, alkalinity, and other major contaminants every 3-5 years.
When Should You Test Your Water
The EPA recommends testing your water in the spring if you only test once a year. This is the time when you have the highest likelihood of finding problematic contaminants like coliform bacteria, nitrates, or a change in pH levels.
Testing your well water for contamination is of utmost importance, as drinking good water has major health benefits. Even after the testing has been done, and the contaminants identified, proper care must be taken to ensure that the chosen filters meets the standards set by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The quality of the filters also play a vital role in keeping drinking water free of contamination.