Water Health & Safety Tips

Healthy Tips for Your Safety

  1. If your doctor says to buy water, buy distilled water, not mineral or drinking water.
  2. Always empty your tea kettle when making tea, or other hot drinks. Refill with cold water each time to decrease mineral buildup in the kettle.
  3. If your home was built before 1983 you may have lead pipes. If you are concerned about lead in your water allow the tap to run several minutes before using. This will usually reduce the amount of lead in your water.
  4. Ice makers use copper tubing which can cause high levels of copper in your ice. This can cause upset stomach for some children or adults.
  5. Never use hot tap water to prepare coffee, tea, or formula. This can allow contamination from your hot water tank.
  6. Never allow your child to drink from a garden hose. Bacteria gather in hoses and can cause illness. Also, many garden hoses are made of material that can leach chemicals into the water.
  7. Always perform routine maintenance on your well and water system. Poor maintenance is the most common cause of problems in your home water system.

What Kind Of Tests Do I Need?

Bacteria Test

Water personnel will most likely recommend a coliform bacteria test as the first step in determining the quality of your water.Many problems begin with an improperly sealed, cased, or maintained well. This may allow contaminants -including coliform bacteria- to enter your system.Once repairs are made and the system disinfected, the need for more testing may not exist.

Coliform bacteria are indicator bacteria. Their presence may indicate that disease causing parasites or bacteria may be present.Their absence usually indicates that your system is free of these kinds of health hazards.

Nitrate Testing

Nitrate is a compound formed when nitrogen combines with oxygen. It can be naturally occurring; usually at levels less than 2 mg/l.Levels over 10 mg/l may represent a serious health concern for infants and pregnant or nursing women.Preliminary studies suggest that excessive nitrate consumption may be linked to gastric cancer; however, this has not been confirmed.Other domestic use such as bathing and laundry is acceptable.

Some Problem Indicators

  1. Hardness: "Slick" water feel. Soap does not lather well. Dingy spots on laundry. Whitish spots on dishes. Greasy or grimy rings in tubs or sinks. Scale build-up in the pipes. High calcium or magnesium content.
  2. Iron: Reddish brown stains on tubs, toilets, sinks, and sometimes on laundry when chlorine bleach is used. Metallic taste. Water from tap may be clear, but discolors as it stands and takes oxygen.
  3. Manganese: Black stains on laundry, dishes, or fixtures, dark sediment in water. Often accompanies iron.
  4. Copper: Blue, Green, or Gray staining on fixtures. Intestinal problems, burning sensation in mouth. Metallic taste.
  5. Zinc: Metallic taste. Corroded or rusting iron and copper pipes. Frequent pipe replacement necessary.
  6. Lead: Metallic taste. Corroding or rusting pipes. Accumulates in body to form lead poisoning.
  7. Sodium: Fuzzy, carbonate appearance. Bad taste due to salt infiltration. Causes health problems for individuals on salt restricted diets.
  8. Other Common Toxic Metals: Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Mercury, Chromium, Selenium.

Organic Contamination

There are hundreds of pesticides and herbicides that may be a source of contamination. If you do not know what chemicals may have been used on or near your land, your neighbors or the county extension agent may be able to help you.