Sensory Cue 


Possible Cause 


Brown-red water stains Iron
Yellow water Tannin
Black-stained fixtures and laundry Manganese
Blackening and pitting of stainless steel sinks Chloride
White deposits in pipe, water heater Hard water
Soap scum Hard water
Milky water Particles, air
Grittiness Fine sand, grit
Turbidity, murkiness Dirt, clay, silt, organic matter
Blue-green stains on porcelain fixtures Brass, copper
Musty, earthy smell Organic matter (leaves and algae)
Chlorine, bleach smell Chlorine
Detergent, foam Wastewater discharge into water supply
Rotten egg smell Dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas
Metallic taste Iron, manganese
Salty, brackish Sodium chloride, sulfate, inorganic salts
Adapted from the EHMI Water “Sense” Wheel
™ Environmental Hazards Management Institute