Understanding Emerging Contaminants Found in Drinking Water

Understanding Emerging Contaminants Found in Drinking Water


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) constantly evaluates the levels of known contaminants to ensure that they stay within the set limits for safe human consumption. Additionally, the EPA has developed a new category that they have named “Emerging Contaminants.” These are newer types of contaminants that need to be evaluated further.water-fountain-children-1395743

What is an Emerging Contaminant?

Broadly speaking, there are two different categories of contaminants that we need to be aware of. The first group has an adverse effect on human health and the second group affects the aesthetics of the drinking water, which is noticeable in the taste, odor, and appearance of the water.

Outside of these two categories we now also have emerging contaminants, and at the moment the EPA does not really understand how they may affect human health. The reason for this is that the compounds are only being detected at trace levels making a comprehensive study difficult. There are a number of sources of emergent contaminants, such as: over the counter and prescription drugs, newer pesticides and herbicides, flame retardant chemicals and certain types of detergents.

At the moment health scares involving emergent contaminants are thankfully rare, but not unheard of. Recently, water well used to service the Pease International Trade port in Portsmouth was shut down due to the detection of perfluorochemicals that are used in flame-retardant foam.

Can Water Filtration Remove Emerging Contaminants?

There is a new national standard to verify how well a water treatment system can remove emergent contaminants that are collectively known as the NSF/ANSI 401: Emergent Contaminants/Incidental Compounds. The NSF/ANSI 401 standard of water filters includes both point of use (POU) and point of entry systems (POE).

It is now a simple matter to use these filters in all the ways you would expect, such as faucets, pitchers, refrigerators and countertop units. These water filters could use a type of reverse osmosis system, or they may have a carbon medium to trap larger impurities and remove them from the water. Other kinds of filtration systems may use a different filtration medium that contaminants actually adhere to as the water passes through the filter.

Over time, all methods of water filtration will become less effective as the contaminants clog up the filter media. A reduction in the flow of water is a sure sign that your filter is getting tired and it needs to be changed. It is a good idea not to wait until the problem gets too bad and change your water filter regularly to ensure that it works as intended.

How Often Should a Water Filter be Changed?

Different types of filtration systems have their own recommended changing cycles. Every water filtration systems should come with a manual that will tell you how often the filter needs to be changed. This is usually referred to as the “service cycle,” and it could be for a certain period of time or a recommended number of gallons. Replacement cartridges need to be exactly the same as a size difference will allow water to flow around the filter rendering it useless. It is also important to understand that non certified filter cartridges may be less expensive, but they are usually lower quality, they may fail earlier and/or not filter the water as effectively.

If you have concerns about the quality of your water, speak to a local water treatment professional. There is a diverse choice of water softeners/water conditioners, and filtration systems to choose from that can address your problem. Always ensure that your chosen water treatment specialist is fully WQA certified to ensure that they meet and even exceed industry standards.

Contact NicMar Water for your water needs.

About The Author: Mark Williams (NicMar Water 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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