I’d Like To Know If My Drinking Water Is Contaminated ~ How?
Contamination of drinking water can usually be detected through a variety of sensory signs, such as the way the water looks, tastes or smells, as well as the sediments or deposits it leaves behind. Some of these signs of water contamination have been described here to provide an idea what to look for, although some of them are relatively obvious we feel it’s important to cover the basics as well as other ways to determine if the drinking water in your home is ‘safe’ to drink. If not, it should become more obvious to those that should be reaching for a water filter or even a water filtration system.
Detecting Contamination through Color
Some types of contamination can be detected by the color of the water. Pollutants are likely to be present if the water is cloudy or even milky looking. Many contaminants will cause some major changes in the color. Depending on the particular pollutants present, the water may look blue, blue-green or yellow. Other pollutants may cause it to appear reddish-orange, red, brown or brown-black.
If any of the above colors and/or cloudy coloration are present in your drinking water it is advisable to get a decent water filter. At times it’s also advisable to look to a whole house water filtration system, because bathing in contaminated waters is not advisable.
Detecting Contamination through Odor
Sometimes contamination is not necessarily visible, but can be detected through the way the water smells. Earthy, musty and fishy odors are a sure sign of pollution, as is the smell of rotten eggs, gas or oil. Odors of chlorine and/or detergents, and even a sweet perfume like smell equally indicate pollution.
Detecting Contamination through Taste
Many contaminants make their presence known through particularly unpleasant tastes. These tastes may be perceived as metallic, alkaline or chemical, often being quite sharp in nature. Other pollutants may cause water to taste brackish, downright foul or salty.
Detecting Contamination through Deposits
Even reasonably normal looking, smelling or tasting water can contain various polluting substances. These are frequently detected by the deposits they leave behind. Whitish, often scaly deposits, in particular around plug holes or in kettles, etc, are a sign of contamination, as are rings around one’s bath tub or sink and thick left-over soap scum deposits.
Some contaminants will leave spots on clothing or dishes, while others will cause teeth to become mottled or spotted. Often these kinds of pollutants are accompanied by a generally gritty, abrasive feel to the water.
Detecting Contamination through Sediments
Often contaminated water will show reddish-brown sediments or slime colored anything from reddish-brown to black forming at the bottom of a container if left to settle. This is usually also accompanied by that abrasive, gritty feel.
Detecting Contamination through Staining
Depending on the type of pollutant, contamination may also be detected through staining of fixtures and fittings, or even on dishes, clothing, etc. These stains may be anything from yellow and gray to bluish-green or red, brown and black in color.
Pitting or blackening of metal fixtures, sinks or even metal pots, spoons, etc that have been left left to air dry also points to contamination.
Protection against the Effects of Contamination
While these are all fairly obvious signs of contamination, being detectable either through a single sign or as a combination of signs, relatively low concentrations of contaminants may not be as easily detected, but are nonetheless still harmful.
It is of course possible to invest in testing equipment and regularly monitor the quality of drinking water. As this may ultimately require the use of filter systems if and when contamination is detected anyway, it is by far more cost-effective to invest in filter systems, if only for drinking water, from the start. This will ultimately provide peace of mind, whether at home, abroad or out hiking or camping in the wilderness.
Water Filter Choices
Water filters come in a range of shapes and sizes, and which one to choose ultimately depends on what is actually required. An individual living alone will find that a pitcher filter will be sufficient to cover their need of filtered drinking water, for instance, while a family may be better served with faucet filters.
Particularly bad contamination may require all water used within a household, including water used for cooking or showering, for instance, to be filtered.
Water from private sources, such as wells, streams, etc, will require more sophisticated filtering systems, as well as secondary systems to disinfect the water, ensuring potentially present viruses are removed.
Lightweight portable filter can be purchased for the purpose of providing drinkable water on backpacking or camping trips. Many of these options are small enough to carry in a backpack, while the more stationary camping filters are often a little larger and mostly suited for use in camp.
Again, there are a range of possible options, and which option is ultimately the most suitable one will depend on personal requirements and preferences.