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Water Contaminants

The first thing I’m going to deal with is what and why certain substances are added to our drinking water at its source. Think about this for a moment. How far do you think your water has to travel before it comes out of your faucet? It can go through miles of pipes before it finally reaches your glass, and that means various contaminants can get to it.

Big Pipes

For this reason substances like chlorine are added to help prevent bacterial growth as the water travels through the system. In some areas fluoride, magnesium and calcium are also added. These are all considered good for you, and they should be part of the human diet in some way to help us maintain healthy teeth and bones.

What you should be aware of is the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has placed what’s called MCL’s (Maximum Contaminant Levels) laws in place, so for the most part tap water is safe to drink.

However, they can’t control everything all the time so below I’m going to deal with some of the contaminants that can get into water during its journey to your system.

Inorganic Compounds

  • Metalloid Positive Ions and Metals
    • The main culprits are arsenic, lead and mercury. All of these can be a danger to your health, even in very small doses.
      They generally end up in your water as a result of human activity or various natural processes.
    • You will also find traces of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium in your water. These are introduced in the same way, but are considered to be beneficial to your health. However, calcium and magnesium are the main reason we suffer from hard water which is why I have covered water softeners on my website.
  • Phosphate, carbonate, nitrates, nitrites chloride, sulfate and cyanide are positive ions that can be present in the water that comes out of your faucet, and even in small quantities can cause health issues.
  • Radon deserves a special mention because it’s a radioactive gas. This substance is most prevalent in tap water that comes from bedrock, underlying soil or wells.

Organic Compounds

Apologies but there is another list on its way, but before we get to that you should know that organic compounds are carbon based which is why they can so easily get into your water supply. So, here goes with the list.

Big Pipes

OK, so it’s not a huge list but some of these compounds are not the easiest in the world to pronounce (let alone understand). What you should know about them is they are used in plastics, synthetic fibers, agricultural pesticides, solvents and a good many other things.

When you think about how widespread these products are, it’s very easy to understand how contaminants like this can get into water. Whilst not common, these substances have been linked to certain cancers, and they can also affect the nervous system. There have even been studies that show they can cause hormone imbalances.


For those of you that don’t know (and I didn’t when I first started my research), pathogens are disease causing organisms. The list below may shock you, but unfortunately they can be present in your drinking water.

  • Cryptospordium (commonly found in lakes and rivers).
  • Giardia (this can come from soil).
  • Legionella (This will grow in warm water areas such as hot water tanks).
  • A whole host of other viruses that can have an effect on your health.

If you’ve read this far and you’re in a panic because you’ve looked across at your taps and think you’re now faced with “devil incarnate”, there is no need. It’s very rare for someone to become ill as a result of drinking tap water in the US simply because of the stringent rules in place.

For the most part, your water may just appear unclear, smelly and won’t taste very nice. The information above is here because I believe you should know, and to help you understand exactly how comprehensive some of the water filters I have reviewed on my site are.

If you are in any way worried, you can easily test your water for pretty much all the above. Just take a look at my page on water test kits. These are pretty inexpensive to buy, and will not only put your mind at rest but will also help you decide which of the products will suit you best.

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