Water quality is essential to good health. Poor water quality can lead to various diseases. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common causes of public water system contamination outbreaks in the U.S. are Giargia, Legionella, Norovirus, Shigella, Copper, E. coli and Salmonella. The presence of these contaminants can lead to serious health problems including gastrointestinal disorders. That’s why it’s essential to perform routine, comprehensive water testing to ensure quality drinking water resources that is free of any contaminants.
But what are the factors that affect the quality of drinking water? What factors degrade the water quality? Below, we will discuss the answers to those questions and more.
Water quality is strongly related to the surrounding environment. How the community uses water can directly affect its quality. If water that has been used for recreational or agricultural uses mixes with residential ground water, the water quality can be degraded drastically.
If the surrounding area includes farmland, the quality of water will be affected by the sediment and bacteria that are present in animal feces. Moreover, the use of fertilizers and chemical pesticides can contaminate the groundwater sources.
Sewage water can also get into drinking water through septic tanks, leaky pipes, and storm overflows. The use of household chemicals such as cleaners, detergents, and petroleum-based chemicals may also contaminate water sources.
The method in which water is treated can also have an immense impact on water quality. The treatment and filtration of groundwater into drinking water will affect the quality of the drinking water.
Water that goes through multiple filtration and decontamination processes is generally cleaner compared to water that goes through just one or two stages of filtration. In the United States, public drinking water systems are subjected to coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection prior to being stored and utilized by the public. Throughout the entire water treatment process, the water is continuously tested for contaminants. If it fails, the water undergoes further treatment or repeats steps from earlier in the process again.
Another important factor that affects the quality of water is the disposal of waste by industries. Most governments implement strict guidelines regarding disposal of industrial waste into lakes and streams. However, accidental spills or improper waste disposal are still possibilities that can affect the quality of drinking water.
In the United States, it is a criminal offense to dispose of hazardous materials in water sources under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit is obtained. Water spills that are deemed to be negligent or intentional carry penalties that can include fines and imprisonment.
How is Water Quality Measured?
Water quality is measured by assessing numerous different criteria. A few of the indicators that can be analyzed in water quality testing include:
- Chemical: Dissolved oxygen level, pH levels, salinity, organic and inorganic compounds
- Physical: Turbidity, temperature, salinity
- Aesthetic: Color, appearance, odor, floating matter
- Biological: Algae, bacteria, legionella
- Radioactive: Radiation emitters
These properties can be measured and monitored in order to determine whether the water is suitable for drinking purposes. It’s important to regularly test water for the presence of dangerous substances. The cost of testing is much less than the impact of poor quality water. For biological contaminants like legionella, contamination can result in serious medical repercussions such as Legionnaires’ disease.
If you have reason to believe that a water source near you may be contaminated, locate a professional water-testing firm. You can contact SanAir Technologies Laboratory with any questions about locating a testing firm.
SanAir Technologies Laboratory specializes in legionella testing. Our Legionella Analysis is performed using conventional culture method with multiple selective media, DFA confirmations, and latex agglutination to identify isolates as Legionella pneumophila or other Legionella species with a high accuracy. SanAir has developed a comprehensive web-based reporting layout that is in an easy to read format. You can contact us today by dialing (804) 897-1177.