Municipalities remove bigger particles such as leaves and silt from water and also disinfect it with chemicals to eliminate disease causing organisms. As a result, city water may contain:
- Chlorine or chloramines – used by municipalities to filter and disinfect water. These chemicals can leave behind an unpleasant taste and odor.
- Fluoride – added to protect teeth and prevent germs.
- Metals and other contaminants – may be picked up as water flows through pipes to your home. See well water list below for examples of other potential contaminants.
Private wells are not subject to water guidelines. As a result, it is recommended to test your well annually because of constantly changing ground conditions. Well water may contain:
- Arsenic – undetectable smell and taste, but may lead to nerve, heart, skin and blood vessel damage.
- Metals – rusty color and smell, creates a metallic taste.
- Nitrates – undetectable smell and taste, may cause brain damage in infants.
- Silt/sediment – visible particles and cloudy water.
- Coliform Bacteria – undetectable, associated with E. coli.
- Fluoride – undetectable, may lead to tooth discoloration.
- Hardness – spots on dishes, dry skin, leads to stains and higher appliance bills.
- Cysts – cause abdominal pain.
- Lead – may lead to nerve damage and high blood pressure.
- Chemicals – such as atrazine, benzene and lindane: undetectable but may have multiple health effects.
- Pharmaceuticals – enter water through the waste stream.