Let’s talk about the first category of water contaminants; Dissolved inorganics. If you remember from earlier posts, water is the universal solvent and given time, it will dissolve any substance. As water comes into contact with things and dissolves them, the water becomes contaminated.
The most common dissolved inorganic substances are the minerals/salts that we see leaving spots on our dishes, cars and windows. Sodium, Calcium, Iron, Chlorides, Sulfates, Magnesium, Manganese, and Potassium are pretty common culprits. These elements are found in the rocks, dirt, sand and clay that our water comes into contact with.
Other “metals” (Sodium, Calcium, etc. are known in chemistry as metals) like selenium, barium, chromium, nickel, silver and copper also frequently find their way into our drinking water. Some metals, like sodium, iron and calcium are rarely health risks although they can influence taste and cause spotting and staining on things they come into contact with. Other metals like selenium are cherished as healthful contaminants. Some metals, like copper, nickel and chrome, even in very small concentrations as little as 1 part per million can cause devastating health problems.
If I can impress nothing else upon the reader, it is that water, as precious and necessary to our lives as it is, is also an aggressive, active substance that at times can do us as much harm as it does good. Water in the hands of an uneducated person, can be a dangerous thing.
As we proceed, we will talk more about these contaminants; examining where they come from, how science removes them, and how to read an analytical water report. Until next time, I encourage you to take a look at the analytical report in your hometown.