Learn About the Quality of Tap Water

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Pentair Water Solutions
Pentair Water Solutions

02/16/2021

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What’s in Your Water 101: Learn About the Quality of Your Tap Water

The topic of water often finds its way into the national news cycle. The spotlight on our nation’s water quality hasn’t gone away since water contaminants like lead were discovered in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water. Most recently topics about cyber security of a water supply plant in Florida and heavy metals in baby foods have been buzzing on the news and social media. Briefly, parents had their worlds spun around when The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee released a detailed report on baby food. The report revealed that many leading brands of baby food contain “dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals,” including lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Which leads to the question, what is the quality of your tap water? While we can’t help you in the baby food department, we thought we’d take a moment to demystify what water contamination solutions treat issues like heavy metals.

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What’s in my water?

Great question! The answer to this varies not only from state to state, but from household to household.

Your first step is to head to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Consumer Confidence Report database. All municipalities are required to release a yearly consumer confidence report, also called a water quality report, by July 1st.

For example, let’s pretend you live in Albany, New York. Albany’s 2019 water quality report lists the contaminants tested and whether or not there were any violations for those contaminants. No violations occurred in 2019 – that’s terrific!

Not so fast. A water quality report doesn’t say what’s in your water. Each municipality also differs in how it disinfects its public water, so levels of treatment chemicals like chlorine and associated byproducts can vary. So while the water quality report can be informative, there is still more to learn.

Furthermore, there is no public database on what’s in your water if you own a private well. Microorganisms or contaminants like nitrates can affect your well water. And, depending on the pipes and fixtures leading to your home, heavy metals might be able to leech into the supply.

What is the EPA’s role regarding water quality?

The EPA establishes Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for several kinds of water contaminants. These are the legally enforceable standards for water quality. For example, the maximum level of fluoride in water is 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L). But the rules change often.

After reading about the lead levels in baby food (some brands used ingredients that tested over 350 parts per billion, or ppb, of lead), you dig into the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule to determine if your tap water contains acceptable amounts of lead. The action level is 15 ppb, but let’s break down what this means: over 10% of samples  in an area need to test at or above that level before any action is required to reduce lead contamination.

Furthermore, the EPA rules aren’t exhaustive. What does this mean for you? The EPA doesn’t monitor every contaminant that might be present in water. Just last month, the EPA announced they would begin taking steps to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an industrial chemical  that has been linked with health concerns for years.

For ultimate reassurance, we recommend testing your water. Don’t leave anything to chance!

Testing well water from a kitchen tap, selective focus.

How to test for tap water contaminants

Trust the scientific method: you can’t know what you’re dealing with until you get some data.

The Pentair 16-Point Rapid Water Test takes the guesswork out of water treatment so you can enjoy some peace of mind. This water test analyzes your water for the 16 most common contaminants, like arsenic, copper, lead, and many more. With a quick sample from your kitchen sink, you can learn the levels of common contaminants like lead, arsenic, nitrates, total coliform (bacteria), and tannins. Learn more about water testing.

Return shipping is included, and results typically take 3-5 business days.

Best water contamination solutions

What’s an effective way to transform your water woes into water that wows? Identify the ideal solution for your unique water profile.

  • Treatment chemicals – Does your water contain elevated levels of chlorine, chloramines, or disinfection byproducts like Trihalomethanes (THMs)? We recommend you choose a carbon-based solution like a Whole House Water Filter.
  • Heavy metals – Are you more concerned about metals like lead, arsenic, and radium? We recommend you invest in a defense like a FreshPoint 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis System.
  • Microorganisms – For total coliform bacteria and other microorganisms like viruses, a UV Disinfection System will qualm any worries.
  • Hard water – When you need to avoid scaling and etching caused by magnesium, calcium, and other minerals, trust a Water Softener or Conditioner to protect your plumbing and appliances.

Learning what’s in your water and choosing what to do about it shouldn’t be a headache. If you still have questions about your drinking water quality, contact a Pentair Water Solutions expert today.