Clean drinking water is the fundamental right of every one of us. Unfortunately on this tiny blue marble, less that 8 percent of the water is fresh and an even lesser percentage of water is potable. The difference between fresh and potable water quite simply is in the fact that fresh water isn’t really always drinkable water.
Freshness simply means that the water does not have an unusually high concentration of dissolved salt. Freshness is no guarantee for the potability of water, because fresh water could also be a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and algae which when ingested can cause a person serious health problems.
Testing one’s drinking water supply is of prime importance to a homeowner in order to ensure that his water supply is fit for human consumption. Testing can also help in settling the course of treatment of water in the unfortunate circumstance of it being polluted. Consider getting personalized water bottles so you can have the purest water with you at all times.
Drinking water testing:
Public water supplies are tested frequently for contaminants, and suppliers are required to provide test results to their customers annually. These tests are usually done on the water at the treatment plant. Residents may have concerns about the quality of municipal water reaching their home (after it has been distributed through water mains and their home plumbing), and may want to conduct further tests on their water.
Testing a private water supply is generally the responsibility of the property owner. Private water supplies should always be tested before a home is purchased and whenever a new water supply is being developed.
To be able to identify the right kind of treatment your water source requires it will first have to undergo a battery of tests to determine the nature of pollutants. There is unfortunately no one single test that can identify the kind of pollutant the water is suffering from.
Considering the sheer number of pollutants in the water, with it being a universal solvent, one must first understand the nature of the pollutant. Pollutants can broadly be classified into 2 types, chemical and biological.
Chemical Pollutants: Industrial sewage, heavy metals like lead and mercury, solid waste and oil can be classified as chemical pollutants.
Biological Pollutants: Bacteria (like coliform and others), algae, protozoa, and viruses can be classified as biological pollutants.
Testing the waters for pollutants:
In the case of chemical pollutants a reagent test is probably the easiest way to look for pollutants in the water table. A sample of water collected at the source is treated with a lab reagent and a change in its colour is observed. A certain colour means that the water in question is free of certain chemical pollutants.
Potable water needs to conform to certain safe standards set by the country’s government and the World Health Organization. To ensure this happens There are tests for different kinds of biological pollutants. For instance a coliform test is undertaken to determine the presence of coliform bacteria that is responsible for several waterborne diseases like typhoid etc.
Remedial Measures to be taken in case of pollutants found in water:
Boiling water is always a good way to rid it of germs. Most bacteria and viruses succumb at the boiling point of water. Filtration and straining helps rid the boiled water of any additional bacteria that may be present.
Should a test detect lead or pesticides, a simple filter—either a pitcher with a filtering device built in or a faucet-mounted system (look for one that is NSF certified)—is all a healthy adult needs. This however will not be enough in the case of pregnant women or young children; ergo one will have to invest in a reverse osmosis or Ultra Violet filter.
About the author:
Miles Halloway is an expert in water testing for both commercial and residential purposes. His advice is sought after by a wide range of corporate and private clients .