Every March 22nd is World Water Day. It is a day dedicated to making people know more about the essence of
freshwater and managing water resources to attain sustainability. It also presents an avenue to discuss
water-related topics extensively and take firm steps toward making freshwater available and sustainable for
World Water Day 2023 focuses on solving the water and sanitation problems facing the countries of the world. The
unavailability of safe water to billions of people and millions of schools, healthcare centers, farms, and
businesses is a serious call for concern. Have you ever wondered where the water you drink daily comes from? Are
you sure it doesn’t contain contaminants that exceed safe levels? If present, do you know how to remove these
contaminants and make your water safe for drinking?
Read on to learn more about the common contaminants found in drinking water and the appropriate treatments
recommended by the CDC.
What are The Types of Contaminants in Drinking Water?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set legal limits on about 90
in drinking water. The
agency expects the water systems to maintain these limits using the best available technology and warns that
exceeding these limits will put human health at risk.
The 2019 classification of contaminants in drinking water by the EPA comprises 88 standards for microorganisms,
chemicals, and radionuclides
. There are currently six groups as follows:
- Microorganisms, including Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Viruses (enteric)
- Disinfectants, including Haloacetic acids, Chlorite, and Bromate
- Disinfection byproducts, including Chloramines, Chlorine dioxide, and Chlorine
- Inorganic chemicals, including Nitrate, Lead, Fluoride, Copper, Chromium, Cadmium, and Arsenic
- Organic chemicals, including Dioxin, Vinyl Chloride, Carbofuran, Alachlor, Acrylamide, and Benzene
- Radionuclides, including Radium 226 and Radium 228 Combined, Alpha Particles, Beta Particles, and
As regulated by the EPA, the contaminants listed above are known to put human health at various risk levels.
Based on their effects, they are classified into two groups: acute and chronic effects.
Acute effects surface hours or days after consuming a contaminant. An example of an acute effect is the case of
a Florida resident that died after becoming infected with a microorganism contaminant—a rare brain-eating
. According to health experts in Charlotte County, southwest Florida, the infection most likely
after the victim rinsed their nasal sinuses with tap water. A 2021 test report
confirmed the presence of
Naegleria fowleri in 28 (30.1%) out of 93 samples obtained between 2014 and 2018 from public water in the city
Chronic effects happen when people consume a contaminant at levels beyond the safety limits prescribed by the
EPA over a long period, usually several years. Water contaminants with such effects include minerals like
arsenic, radionuclides like radium, and other chemicals. The chronic effects include reproductive problems,
kidney and liver issues, and cancer.
Chronic effects are relatively common compared to acute effects.
Nitrates in Community Water Systems (CWS)
Based on the report of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment
principal groundwater aquifers that were adopted as U.S. public and private drinking water supplies between 1998
and 2015 were sampled. The nitrate found in groundwater under agricultural land was 3x the national background
level of 1 mg/L NO3-N. The NAWQA study also estimated that 2% of public-supply wells and 6% of private wells in
mixed-land-use areas are beyond the MCL, while 21% of private wells are beyond the MCL in agricultural areas.
Nitrate exposure comes with different health implications, including cancer
. According to studies, workers
exposed to nitrate fertilizer are more likely to experience stomach cancer. However, evidence connecting
long-term exposure to higher nitrate levels in drinking water to a higher risk of cancer remains unclear.
Arsenic in Community Water Systems (CWS)
Arsenic occurs naturally in some soils and rock formations. It is also present in groundwater and surface water
as leachates. Arsenic is found in high levels in the groundwater
in some parts of the
United States, where it
presents a possible health hazard to people who rely on private well water for their drinking water needs.
Arsenic can be lethal when consumed in very high amounts. Lower amounts of arsenic also cause vomiting, nausea,
blood vessel damage, reduced production of white and red blood cells, a pin and needle sensation in the hands
and feet, and abnormal heart rhythm.
Water Treatment Methods Recommended By The CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends ion exchange, distillation, and reverse osmosis
as water treatment methods for removing arsenic and nitrate from water
The principle of
is the separation of components or substances from a liquid mixture using
selective boiling and condensation. The process is highly efficient, so distilled water
is usually called the
purest form of water. Distillation has found a wide range of applications in medical and industrial processes.
reversible interchange of a type of ion found in an insoluble solid with another ion
with a similar charge found in the solution surrounding the solid. It has been widely used in softening or
demineralizing water, chemical purification, and separating substances into components.
Reverse osmosis (RO) is another water purification process. It relies on a semi-permeable membrane
pure water molecules from other components like ions, unwanted molecules, and larger particles.
Both reverse osmosis
and membrane filtration processes rely on a membrane to carry
out separation, with the only
difference being in the mechanisms and applications.
Any filtration process that uses a membrane to separate substances according to charge, shape, or size is termed
membrane filtration. They include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis. This
membrane usually has tiny pores, just small enough to allow the passage of water and small molecules. All other
molecules and larger particles like dissolved solids, viruses, and bacteria are blocked from passing.
Which Water is the Most Suitable for Your Health?
The best water for drinking will be based on individual needs and specific situations. However, water’s
suitability for drinking is determined by its quality and not the source. The tips below will help you choose
the best water to drink to stay healthy.
Assess the Source of the Water
The first step is to identify the source of the water. The ideal water for drinking should come from a pure and
natural source, including glaciers or springs. This type of water hardly contains contaminants or pollutants.
Check the Purity
Check if the water has been previously purified or treated. The label usually contains information regarding
this. If the water has been treated or purified, it is most likely free of harmful contaminants like heavy
metals, viruses, bacteria, and chemicals.
Check the pH Balance
The pH balance of water is an indication of its quality. For instance, the best water for drinking should have
pH balance between 6.5 to 8.5
. Drinking water that is too alkaline or acidic can put you at health risk.
Check the Mineral Content
Human health greatly benefits from water rich in minerals
, including potassium, magnesium, and calcium. However,
such water may not be suitable for people with kidney problems.
is another source of drinking water. However, checking the
label and ensuring the container is
made from glass, BPA-free plastic, or other safe materials is important. With 91% of plastic ending up in
landfills unrecycled, you may want to consider better alternatives to bottled water.
Tap water is another option. But it is advisable to check with your local provider to ascertain the suitability
of the water for drinking. If unsure, you can use a water filter system to reduce the contaminants that may be
Understand Your Hydration Needs
Your hydration needs are another important factor. For instance, an athlete’s hydration needs differ from that
of a regular office worker. Once you know how much water your body needs, you know how much you need to drink to
stay healthy and hydrated.
To Round up…
The world records new water safety incidents every year. World Water Day is an opportunity to identify and
tackle these problems. Having the right water purification system in your space will ensure you get access to
healthy, clean drinking water. It also reduces your carbon footprint and limits the amount of plastic waste by
removing the need for bottled water.
As insignificant as it may seem, collective efforts toward improved water management and security will make
everyone healthier and improve our general quality of life.