Pamplin Media Group – When to test the water at home

EPA says certain conditions and activities may warrant water testing

Contaminated water supplies pose a significant threat to human health. According to the World Health Organization, contaminated water is linked to various diseases, including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery and hepatitis A, among others. Drinking water sources are prone to contamination, and many people may not know if their water is safe to drink or what they need to do to be sure.

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that many labs or testing services provide sample containers to people interested in having their water tested. But that leaves the question of when to test the waters. The EPA indicates that certain conditions and activities may warrant testing the water for the presence of various things that can make individuals sick.

• Condition: recurrent gastrointestinal disease

• Recommended test: Coliform bacteria

• Condition: household plumbing contains lead

• Recommended test: Pit, lead, copper

Condition: Scaly residue, soaps do not lather

• Recommended test: Hardness

• Condition: water softener needed to treat hardness

• Recommended test: manganese, iron

• Condition: stained plumbing fixtures, laundry room

• Recommended test: Iron, copper, manganese

• Condition: foul taste or odor

• Recommended test: hydrogen sulphide, corrosion, metals

• State: cloudy, frothy or colored water

• Recommended test: color, detergents

• Condition: corrosion of pipes, plumbing

• Recommended test: Corrosion, pH, lead

• Condition: rapid wear of water treatment equipment

• Recommended test: pH, corrosion

• State: areas of intensive agriculture nearby

• Recommended test: Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria

• Condition: Coal or other nearby mining

• Recommended test: Metals, pH, corrosion

• Condition: smell of gasoline or fuel oil, near a gas station or buried fuel tanks

• Recommended test: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

• Condition: salty taste and sea water, or heavily salted road nearby

• Recommended test: chloride, TDS, sodium

Various conditions can indicate a contaminated water supply. Individuals should not hesitate to have their water tested when such conditions arise.

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