3 Surprising U.S. Water Quality Facts

Many people may have heard about the water quality problems encountered throughout the U.S. in recent years. It seems that water contamination stories are widespread and the problems may be worse than we realize. There are many different sources of contamination in water supplies, and it’s important to be aware of potential risks. This will allow you to plan ahead and take steps that are vital to secure a healthy supply of water. Here are three surprising facts about water here in the U.S. that you may not be aware of. 3 Surprising U.S. Water Quality Facts

1. U.S. Water Quality vs. the Rest of World

It’s important to be thankful that we live in the developed world and we have access to water that is better quality than most other parts of the world. In fact, the CDC recommends that only developed nations of the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have water that’s safe to drink straight from the tap. Recent figures form WaterAid have revealed that more than 650 million people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water.

2. What is a Water Contaminant?

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has a broad definition of what a water contaminant is. Technically any material that isn’t a water molecule could be defined as a contaminant. This is not very useful as not every contaminant is harmful to health and the majority of dissolved minerals can be consumed safely. The Water Quality Association (WQA) has an extensive list of common water contaminants that are harmful. The EPA defines a water contaminant in four different classifications; they are physical, chemical, biological and radiological.

Physical contaminants – sediments and/or organic materials that can change the physical properties of water.

Chemical contaminants – these can be man made or naturally occurring chemicals.

Biological contaminants – these are microorganisms, including bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

Radiological contaminants – these are chemical elements that will emit certain types of harmful radiation, including plutonium, cesium, and uranium.

3. Groundwater Contaminants

More than half of the homes in the U.S. rely on groundwater to supply both municipal water and private wells. Our groundwater is a valuable resource, but it can be just as vulnerable to pollution and contamination as our surface waterways. Groundwater can become contaminated when man made materials, such as road salt, gasoline, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals are leached into the ground. Heavy rainfall and melting snow can create agricultural runoff from farm fields that can also include organic materials including animal manure. This represents a significant health hazard, and additional water treatment is recommended to ensure a supply of clean water.

Although our water here in the U.S. is very clean compared to other parts of the world, it’s no reason to be complacent. It’s a good idea to take additional steps to filter the water coming into our homes and remove any contaminants. A reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment system can remove a wide variety of harmful contaminant, and an ultraviolet (UV) system can safely deal with microorganisms.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University.  He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)

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