Contaminants Found In Drinking Water
All natural water sources contain some impurities. Most groundwater comes from rain and melting snow that soaks into the ground and creates the water table. Any substance that comes in contact with water is a potential contaminant. Microbial, organic, and inorganic compounds each have a different effect on the health of your water.
Bacterial contamination can come from any type of decomposing organic material, yeast, molds, and may or may not be harmful for human consumption. In the laboratory, the presence of a particular type of bacteria, called coliforms, is used as an indicator that potentially dangerous pathogens may have entered a water source.
Thousands of chemicals used in the world today fall under this classification. For example, solvents, gasoline, oil, pesticides and herbicides are all organic contaminants. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a class of chemicals that contain carbon, evaporate readily, and leave residue that can cause contamination. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that VOCs are present in one-fifth of the nation’s water supply. Neilson Research Corporation routinely tests for 43 VOCs in our residential drinking water packages.
Our inorganic chemistry laboratory is devoted to analyzing samples for the presence of heavy metals, nutrients, and minerals, while trace metals are studied in our dedicated metals lab. Many inorganic analytes occur naturally in the environment, while others are generated by human activities.
Humans require trace amounts of some metals like copper and iron, but these same elements become toxic in larger quantities. Other elements such as mercury and lead are toxic and have no known benefits to humans. Technicians in our metals lab can detect very low levels of trace metals and determine whether your water falls within safe limits. Many of these compounds are seen regularly in private water samples.