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Common Water Contaminants and Potential Risks

If you don’t have a water filter at home, it’s likely that you have ingested some toxins or contaminants at one point. Does this mean you’re destined for disease? Probably not! However, without a water filter, you could ingest contaminants on a regular basis, and if you do have some of the more dangerous contaminants, such as E. coli bacteria, then you could develop severe health problems.

In this guide, we show you a list of the most common contaminants in your home’s drinking water and how to test for these contaminants so you can ensure your family is safe.

Most Commonly Found Toxins in Drinking Water

Water test kits detect over 1,000 contaminants, but not all of them are commonly found in drinking water. Some may not even be common to the US or your state. However, there are a list of toxins recognized by the CDC as “common waterborne contaminants in drinking water.”

Here is the full list:

• Chlorine
• Aluminum
• Arsenic
• Barium
• Cadmium
• Nitrates/Nitrites
• Perchlorate
• Uranium
• Selenium
• Mercury
• Fluoride
• Lead
• Copper
• Chromium

Common Waterborne Bacteria and Viruses Found

Through water testing, many organizations have found that regions of the US have more viruses and bacteria in their water. The most common of these include:

• Legionella
• Enteroviruses
• Hepatitis
• E. coli
• Enterococci

Potential Risks for Drinking Contaminated Water

The EPA created a list of standard effects from over 80 contaminants. These fall into two potential risk categories.

Acute Risks

These types of effects occur within hours or days of ingesting a contaminated water sample. Typically, this results in nausea, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, fainting, abdominal cramps, ear aches, and many other issues.

If you have a compromised immune system or if the contamination is particularly strong, these acute risks could be deadly. Most of the time, bacteria and viruses are the deadliest when found in drinking water.

Chronic Risks

These effects happen after weeks, months, and even years of ingesting contaminated water. Typically, this means you have ingested chlorine, pesticides, solvents, and other toxins for years. Toxic minerals like arsenic can build up in your system over time, leading to severe health problems.

Cancer due to the ingestion of toxins in drinking water has been documented across America, but it can also cause liver, kidney, and reproductive diseases.

How to Test for Contaminants in Your Water

It’s easy to test a water sample with a simple water testing kit. Most of these are mail-in testing kits that include everything you need to send in a sample of your water. However, there are water test strips that you can also use at home.

However, you want to find a kit that tests for hundreds or thousands of contaminants, rather than just a few. You may also want to look into a well testing contractor if you have well water and aren’t sure about its cleanliness. There could be significant corrosion or leaks causing sediment, bacteria, viruses, and toxic minerals like arsenic into your system.