Understanding Different Water Contaminations in Maryland

Reverse Osmosis Filters dirty vs. cleanDo you know what is in your water?

The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that there are serious deficiencies in water treatment plants in 75% of the states. More than 120 million people may get unsafe water, according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council. As such, a lot of attention (rightfully so) is being paid to our nation’s water supply.

As tap water is tested for more contaminants, more and more problems arise. Unexpectedly, water tests return the presence of e-coli, coliform, fluoride, and chlorine in tap water. Prescription drugs, stimulants, sedatives, tranquilizers, and even opioid traces show up in water tests, retrieved directly from a home’s water tap served by a city’s water supply.

Although you may rely on your city water provider to handle the health and safety of your water, sometimes that is not enough. A homeowner often has to take proactive steps to ensure their home water supply is safe for drinking, cooking with, and using for cleaning and sanitation.

Our professional water company has spent the last 40 years educating our customers to help them understand the risks their home tap water may present to them. By not investing in a professional water test and a subsequent home water treatment system, you risk exposing yourself and your family to dangerous contaminants and more.

We cover just some of the contaminants that you may discover in your water, and what risks they carry, in this guide. If you fear you may have these contaminants, or others, in your water, call your local water service company as soon as possible. Some businesses, like National Water Service, offer a free consultation to help you understand your water risks before spending money on a water treatment system, which can help you understand costs, maintenance, and more.

Always stay safe with a professional water treatment system, to help care for you and your family.

Lead: The Risks of Lead in Your Home Water Supply

Lead in water is not only a problem for the residents of Flint, Michigan — lead in water can and does occur all across the country. In August 2018, it was reported that students at over eighty Montgomery County, MD public schools may have been exposed to lead through the water supply. The lead concentrations discovered were higher than the EPA’s “action level” of 15 parts per billion, causing alarm for parents and families across the county.

Although Flint’s water crisis gained national attention, counties all across the country may or do have lead in the water, calling for attention and proactive water treatment systems to be installed on-location: in schools and in homes.

What is Lead?

Lead PipesLead is a naturally occurring, common metal found throughout the environment. However, lead is seldom found naturally in water supplies, such as lakes and rivers. Lead enters drinking water due to corrosion or wearing away of municipal water pipes and household plumbing containing lead. If your city or your home utilizes pipes containing lead, you may have lead contamination in your drinking water.

A toxic metal, lead can cause both immediate and long term health effects when ingested. Lead can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, as well as have serious effects on blood. Children are the most vulnerable to lead poisoning due to developing growth and their smaller bodies; pregnant women are also at higher risk for negative health effects associated with lead exposure, both for them and their unborn baby.

Lead can cause behavioral issues in children and development complications, among many other effects, and can sometimes be difficult to notice until prolonged exposure has occurred.

The Changes to Lead in Water Laws Throughout the Years

Lead PipesIn 1991, the EPA’s new Lead and Copper Rule required municipal or public water systems to regularly test for lead. If more than 10% of homes tested had lead concentrations higher than the EPA’s “action level, ” the public must be informed. Individual water companies are required to notify area residents via social media, TV, radio, phone calls, etc. in case of these findings. The EPA is currently considering long-term revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule.

Revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2014 made it illegal to install any pipe, fixture, or fitting that was not “lead-free.” Due to this change, all plumbing pipes and fixtures must not contain more than 0.2% lead. As such, all installations or repairs of a municipal water system or consumer plumbing must be lead-free.

However, in 2016, USA Today reported that 2,000 water systems, in all 50 states, had excessive lead contamination. The water systems, which reported lead levels exceeding EPA standards, collectively supply water to 6 million people. Per the Safe Drinking Water Act, older homes are more likely to have plumbing fixtures containing lead, as the revision to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2014 applied to new installations or replacements, and did not specify checking and changing out old pipes from before the act was implemented.

If you believe your home may contain lead-pipes, or if you have other reasons to believe there is lead in your water, it is important to contact your local water service company as soon as possible for water testing to be completed. Although the laws have changed and continue to change to help keep city-provided water safe for homes across the country, it is still important that homeowners and business owners test their water to understand exactly what is in their water supply, to compensate for improper piping.

Harmful Effects of Iron in Drinking Water

Not all iron contaminated water presents with discoloration, odors, or unusual tastes — some iron levels present as clear or mostly clean water, making it impossible to note that iron levels are present in the water you use for cooking, drinking, and cleaning. The risks of not testing for iron in your drinking water can have long term health effects that are important to catch right away.

National Water Service always includes tests for iron (ferric and ferrous) in every service package and free water testing appointment. This is because clients are often surprised at how often large amounts of iron show up in well water, and what effects that can have on those who drink it. When you’re discussing a water consultation with a professional water company in your area, confirm they offer iron testing as part of their overall service — this is one important area to not skip when assessing your water contamination.

Signs You May Have Iron in Your Water

Not all iron types show up in drinking water in a visible way, which is why iron water testing is critical for new homeowners or those who have never had a water test completed before. However, some iron levels can be noted, and these are just some signs to look for:

  • Reddish or brown color
  • Metallic taste
  • An odor of rotten eggs from your water
  • Stains on your clothes after washing with the household water
  • Sitting water slowly turns a red or brown color, even if clear at first

Testing and Treating Iron in Water

Iron build upWhen testing your water for iron levels, it is important to test directly from a drinking source for accurate results. Well water tests may be clear of high iron levels, but iron pipes used in the plumbing can taint the tap water, making water testing directly from the tap vital to understanding all iron levels in your home drinking water. Iron gets into pipes when the water travels through areas that are exposed to oxygen — the pipes begin to rust and leeches iron particles into the water, tainting the drinking water while leaving the well water clear.

Luckily, iron levels are simple to treat with the right water treatment system and filter. Professional filters supplied from your local professional water company should be the only ones you invest in, as other, store-bought models may not filter properly and may require maintenance or further upkeep that still does not maintain water safety properly. When it comes to maintaining safe drinking water and reducing iron levels, be sure to consult with your water professionals on all investments.

The Impact and Health Risks from Iron in Your Water

High levels of iron in your water can pose numerous health risks and damage to your pipes and household equipment. We strongly advise filtering your water to avoid any of the following health risks you or your family may experience due to contaminated drinking water.

Bacteria Growth from High Iron Levels

Water Testing bacteria
A tiny piece of iron makes a great home for bacteria to grow and thrive. Small particles of iron can host bacteria, which can pose a dangerous risk to our health dependant on what bacteria is festering and growing. Once bacteria enters your body, it can spread, causing various illnesses and sickness.

Altered Taste to Food and Beverages

dirty water
High iron levels in your water can have a metallic taste that is unpleasant. Any iron contaminated water you use for beverages such as coffee or tea will also have this taste. Water with high iron levels can also blacken fruits, vegetables, and other foods cooked in the water, spoiling the flavor and integrity of the food.

Internal Organ Damage Risks

well pump impellers

While low levels of iron can be beneficial to your health, high iron content leads to an overload within the human body and can damage organs. This can cause diabetes, hemochromatosis, stomach problems, nausea, iron poisoning, and vomiting. This can also damage the liver, pancreas, heart, and even lead to complete organ failure.

The common symptoms of iron poisoning to be aware of include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Joint Pain
  • Abdominal Pain

 

Always consult with your doctor if you are sick, and if high iron levels are the cause, contact your local professional water company to help install a proper iron water filter and water treatment system in your home to prevent future illnesses.

Iron in Water Can Have Adverse Effects on the Skin

iron gives acne

Skin exposed to high levels of iron via water can result in acne, eczema, and can increase pre-existing skin conditions. Iron clogs the pores, resulting in acne, and a high presence of minerals such as iron or magnesium can damage skin cells that leads to infections and wrinkles.

If you or someone in your home is struggling with such a skin condition, iron levels in the water may be the cause. Although medications can help treat the effects, removing the iron from the water is the only way to maximize the medication’s benefits and clear up the skin and pores.

The Risks of High Iron Levels in Your Pipes

running water
With high levels of iron flowing your pipes, you risk build up and clogging issues. Clogged pipes, toilets, sinks, and equipment can decrease water pressure and may even account of an accumulation of slime that rushes through your water and causes intense discoloration of your water.

Stains as a Result from Iron in Water

Iron Staining
High iron in water tends to leave a red, orange, brown, or yellow stain on bathroom appliances. If you notice a discolored residue on bathtubs, in the shower, or coating the faucets, iron the water may be the cause. When washing dishes with iron contaminated water, you may discover dark stains on cutlery, utensils, and plates. Additionally, it will cause discoloration of your clothes, fading colors and reducing their overall quality.

Removing Iron from Your Drinking Water Can be a Simple Task

If you notice any discoloration, odors, or any other signs of iron in your water, you don’t have to accept the health risks associated with the contamination. In the DMV area, iron in tap water is a common problem, but one that a professional water company can handle with ease.

National Water Service frequently recommends and installs a water softener, a sediment filter, and an iron breaker sulfur breaker as part of our service for treating high iron levels in water. The IBSB water filter in your home will help remove iron, sulfur, manganese, and more from the water. This allows the water to be safe enough to drink and cook with, preventing harmful health affects.

If you have lower levels of iron in your water that still exceed recommended, healthy level of less than 0.3 mg/L of iron in water, a water softener and sediment filter can do the trick. With these installations, water can be enjoyed safely, directly from the tap.

Sediment: Sediment Traces in Well Water and City Water

Sediment is found in homes located in both cities and the country. Sediment treatment is less about health protection and more about protecting your water equipment, pipes, and appliances. Although sediment proposes little to no safety risks in regards to health, it can result in costly repairs or replacements of pipes and appliances if the sediment levels rise without maintenance. Your local water company can help you determine your sediment levels and what actions you need to take to preserve your water supply.

What is Sediment?

Sediment FilterSediment is made up of tiny grains of organic materials like silt, sand, rust, or clay. Sediment and turbidity (tinier pieces of sediment) are naturally occurring in the earth. Sediment can increase in volume in water mains or pipes after a big rainstorm, where the water washes the sediment into water systems at greater volume and velocity.

The Risks of Sediment in Your Water

well pumpBoth city water and well water have sediment present. An abundance of sediment may end up clogging your water treatment systems, as well as all of your valves, fixtures, and irrigation. Sediment in your water can also ruin hot water heaters and other appliances. Sediment risks are about protecting the appliances in your home, for both overall function and efficiency. Without taking proactive steps against sediment in your water, you may incur costly repairs down the line to fix or replace fixtures and appliances that have become clogged or damaged.

The Solution for Sediment in the Water

How to change a Sediment FilterSediment Filters are widely available at any major hardware store, however, they are often the wrong size or the wrong type of filter for the sediment in your water. Improper sediment filters can result in a reduction of water pressure, ruined appliances, and can require frequent maintenance. With the installation of the correct sediment filter, you will be protecting your appliances, fixtures, and water treatment system with little to no drop in your water pressure as a result. 

Your local professional water service company can complete a free consultation including a water test to help determine sediment levels and recommend the proper filter to protect your pipes and appliances. Although sediment is not a risk to your health, it can have financial impacts or hinder the functional operation of your home.

Fluoride in Drinking Water: Beneficial or Contaminate?

Since the 1940s, most Americans have been told about the health benefits of adding fluoride to water and toothpastes. Recent studies by reliable medical journals, however, debate the benefits of fluoride and instead outline the harm fluoride may pose as a contaminant in our water.

What Recent Studies on Fluoride Contamination Outline

Fluoride in WaterThe Lancet classified fluoride as a neurotoxin, the classification used for arsenic, lead, and mercury. The report specifically notes that neuro-developmental disabilities from fluoride, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, are now affecting millions of children worldwide in what they call a “pandemic of developmental Neurotoxicity.” If you’ve ever noticed the warning labels on toothpaste, you probably know just how serious fluoride poisoning can be, especially for children if they swallow too much at one time.

The report in The Lancet coincides with 2013 findings by a Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health that concluded that children in areas with highly fluoridated water have “significantly lower” IQ scores than those who live in areas with low amounts of fluoride in their water supplies. In addition, fluoride can lead to dental and skeletal fluorosis, or a hardening of your bones and joints, resulting in a higher risk of fractures or breaks. Cardiovascular problems have also been linked back to fluoride, including high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, cardiac insufficiency, and even heart failure.

Fluoride Levels in Water Across the Globe

Fluoride in WaterDue to these findings, most developed nations in the world have rejected fluoridation, including 97% of western Europe. The United States, which fluoridates more than 70% of its water supplies, is an exception to this rule. According to the British Fluoridation Society, there are more people drinking artificially fluoridated water in the United States than all other countries combined.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), a main proponent of fluoride, stated that “as a result of water fluoridation, dental caries declined precipitously during the second half of the 20th century.” However, what the CDC has failed to mention is that tooth decay rates have “precipitously declined” in all western countries, irrespective of whether the country ever fluoridated its water.

Fluoride Contamination in American Drinking Water

Despite these reports, most Americans consider fluoride to be an important part of our country’s water purification. All water treatment chemicals, with the exception of fluoride, are added to make drinking water safe and pleasant to consume. Fluoride is the only chemical added to treat people who consume the water, rather than the water itself. Fluoridating water supplies can thus fairly be described as a form of mass medication, which is why most European countries have rejected the practice. However, personal, in-home, water treatment systems, such as a Reverse Osmosis, or Carbon tanks or filters, can be used to remove fluoride from water. When concerned about the fluoride in your water, give your local professional water company a call.

How Working with National Water Service Can Clean Your Tap Water

National Water Service vanAt National Water Service, we strive to provide our customers with the best water quality products for their specific water wants and needs. As such, we are constantly trying to expand not only our knowledge base but the products we offer to cover all issues in the local DMV area. The Mid-Atlantic region’s water is not only rich in iron, but radon, nitrates, turbidity, arsenic, and more, which can not only adversely affect your home and appliances, but your health as well. We continue to proudly offer only the best non-proprietary water treatment, purification, and filtration products in the industry.

As such, we also recommend that if you are on city water, check out the EWG online city water contaminant database.

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