21 Water Contaminants And Potential Hazards You Must Know

Introduce to Water Contaminants And Potential Hazards

According to the United Nations, 1 out of 9 people in the world are using water from unsafe sources, and 2.4 billion people are accessing unsanitary water. More than 80 pollutants in the water are listed, but some are not fully understood and some can cause other problems even if they do not directly affect health. Let’s learn more about water pollutants and their potential risks


1. Coliform bacteria:

Coliform bacteria
Coliform bacteria

The most known type of coliform bacteria is E.coli. EPA measures and adjusts Total Coliforms in drinking water, indicating the potential for the presence of harmful bacteria from human and animal faecal waste.

2. Cryptosporidium and Giardia:

Cryptosporidium and Giardia
Cryptosporidium and Giardia

These parasitic pathogens can also come from human and animal faecal waste and may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. These pollutants are one of the most common forms of waterborne disease and can be found in rivers, lakes as well as groundwater. Some have shown resistance to reduction using chlorine or boiling.

3. Legionella:


This bacterium is the cause of legionnaire’s disease, which causes hundreds of thousands of people to be hospitalized each year. Legionella is naturally found in the environment and infects people who inhale the droplets containing them. It can also cause flu-like symptoms called Pontiac Fever.

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4. Viruses :


Water that is not properly treated can also contain intestinal viruses, which can include rotavirus, norovirus, hepatitis A and E, as well as other viruses. Most of these viruses are known for causing gastroenteritis. NSF standards all call for the elimination of 99.99% of intestinal viruses using approved therapeutic techniques.

Inorganic compounds

5. Arsenic:


This element occurs naturally in rock and soil, and is a byproduct of industrial waste, especially from coal mining and burning. It can enter
groundwater from both natural and polluted sediments, with well water mostly contaminated with arsenic. The EPA (American Association for the Protection of the Environment) says that studies link long-term exposure to arsenic to certain cancers as well as cardiovascular, neurological and other diseases.

6. Chromium:


Trivalent and hexavalent are two types of chromium. Trivalent (chromium-3) is an essential nutrient that occurs naturally. Hexavalent (chromium-6) occurs naturally in the environment but can also be a toxic industrial byproduct. EPA regulates the total amount of both chromiums, as they are exchangeable in the water. EPA has proposed classifying chromium- 6 as “potentially carcinogenic to humans if ingested.”

7. Copper:

Many civil plumbing systems include copper pipes. Metals can leak from pipes into drinking water due to corrosion, especially if the water is highly acidic. Short-term exposure to high levels of copper in the water can cause digestive problems. Long-term exposure can lead to liver and kidney problems.

8. Chlorine and Chloramine:

These two substances are frequently used by cities to disinfect public water supplies, making domestic water safe. However, when chlorine and chloramine exceed the maximum, they can irritate the eyes and nose or upset the stomach. These disinfectants are also responsible for drinking water that consumers often say “tastes like swimming pools”. Because chloramine contains ammonia, we can notice that odour in municipal water.

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9. Fluoride:

Like chlorine, this inorganic chemical can also be added to public drinking water supplies. Some cities add fluoride to improve oral health, but controversy remains on whether fluoride is good or bad. It is also a natural form of fluorine, sometimes found in groundwater in excess of recommended levels. Excess fluoride can cause pitting and discolouration of tooth enamel. Long-term exposure to high concentrations can lead to bone problems in adults.

10. Lead:

Lead contaminated water has received a huge amount of coverage in recent years. Like copper, it can seep into water supplies by corroding metal pipes. The EPA states that lead is a toxic chemical that can cause harm to human health in low levels. It is particularly dangerous for children and infants, potentially causing serious developmental problems, from nerve damage to impaired blood cell formation and function. Learn more about lead in drinking water, including how to test your water.

11. Mercury:


Inorganic mercury compounds form in the Earth’s crust when the mercury combines with other elements. It can enter groundwater through the erosion of natural sediments, but it can also be discharged from refineries and factories or from landfill runoff. Exposure to mercury in drinking water for many years can cause kidney damage. The WQA (Water Quality Association) says excessive exposure to mercury can also have negative effects on brain function, eyesight and hearing.

12. Nitrate / Nitrite:

Nitrite and nitrate pollution is a common problem in households using well water. The source is often due to fertilizers from fields or septic tanks placed too close to the well. Usually, these compounds pose little risk to health. However, they are harmful to babies, causing what is known as the blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal. High levels of nitrates may also indicate that pesticides and herbicides are entering water supplies.

Secondary pollutants

13. Aluminum :

Because it is a metal present in the earth’s crust, aluminium can seep into groundwater. Despite the health risks for dialysis patients, the main problem is aluminium pollution that causes bluish discolouration.

14. Iron :

This is one of the most common well water pollutants. Although not a health hazard, iron can cause many cosmetic problems, including orange stains, metallic taste and clogging caused by iron-eating bacteria. Water with insoluble iron can rust. Learn more about the different types of iron in water and how to treat iron stains.

15. Manganese :

Manganese is a mineral found in rocks and soil, commonly found in water with high iron content. Water contaminated with manganese
can discolour brown, create black deposits, stain, and have a bitter taste or unpleasant odour.

16. Sulfur:

Sulfur-containing compounds can cause various aesthetic problems with water. For example, hydrogen sulfide is often associated with water that has a rotten egg smell. The real unpleasant smell comes from harmless bacteria that eat sulfur. The high sulfate content can give the water a salty taste. Hydrogen sulfide can also corrode metals, including pipes, fixtures and utensils. High levels of sulfur or hydrogen sulfide can cause minor stomach problems.

17. Calcium and Magnesium (Hardness):

The EPA classifies calcium and magnesium minerals in the category of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Water dissolves these minerals, increasing hardness and causing a host of aesthetic and technical problems in many homes. Hard water problems include soapy scum and accumulated lime deposits, increased wear of water-using equipment, ineffective cleaning and bathing products, etc. Hard water is a common water quality problem. most, affecting 90% of US homes.

Other domestic pollutants

18. Manganese:

Although manganese is nowadays considered a secondary contaminant, it can have a high degree of adverse health effects. Research shows that overexposure can lead to the nervous system and learning problems, affecting memory, attention and motor skills in both adults and children.
Excessive manganese in groundwater supplies has been observed in the northeastern United States, and Iowa Public Radio reports that DNR has recently started testing for pollution in public water supplies.

19. Medication:

Prescription and over-the-counter medications enter the water supply when people discharge unused or expired medications. Traces of
drugs, such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants, are found in drinking water because conventional wastewater treatment plants cannot eliminate them completely. Although this is less than the therapeutic dose prescribed by the doctor, EPA is investigating because to public concern.

20. Personal Care Products (PCP):

There are also concerns that some bath and beauty products are contaminating drinking water. Antibiotic soaps, scented products, products containing microplastics and other objects go down the drain and trace amounts are found in surface water. These pollutants may be of more concern to aquatic life than to human health.

21. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS):

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

In this group of emerging pollutants, there are PFOA and PFOS. They are man-made chemicals that have been in use for decades but are getting more attention lately. The EPA says PFAS can be found in food, packaging and household products such as cooking utensils as well as contaminated soil and drinking water. Pollutants often enter the water supply of communities near chemical manufacturing industries. There is proof that PFAs can have adverse effects on human health. That includes a newborn’s ability to affect immune systems, hormones, and health. PFOA in particular may contribute to cancer.

Author Bio

Name- Sunil Trivedi
Bio- Sunil Trivedi is the Managing Director of Aqua Drink. With 15 years of experience in the water purification industry, Sunil and his team have been ensuring that his clients consume 100% potable water to lead a healthy life and keeping water-borne diseases miles away.

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