Though the United States has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, contaminants in the water are inevitable. A contaminant is defined as anything that’s not water, after all. Most are harmless even as they give the water a bad taste, smell or strange color. Others are actively harmful. Here are five of the more common contaminants and what can be done about them.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but it is also a carcinogenic poison. Besides causing cancer, arsenic can damage the body’s circulatory and nervous systems as well as the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and bladder. Arsenic is found in the rocks and soil that drinking water flows through and around.
Nitrates can also be found naturally in the water, but they are also byproducts of fertilizers used on crops or lawns then washed into the water supply. They can also enter the water supply through the effluvium found in septic tanks, and soil can change nitrogen into nitrates. Nitrates are especially problematic for children and pregnant women because they block red blood cells from carrying oxygen.