The term contaminant defines any biological, physical, radiological, or any chemical substance or matter found in water, which most likely has harmful effects on your health. Over the past decades, water has been a host of contaminants. Some contaminants are harmless, while others can be harmful when consumed at high levels. 

Some pollutants, such as microbial and organic, cannot always be detected easily by human senses. You might take long before noticing any problem. Below are some common waterborne contaminants that could harm your health.


1. Lead

If your home is older, there are high chances corrosion has taken place in your pipes. Decay happens when you wait too long before repiping your home. Lead caused by corrosion finds its way to your tap in bits, and to most people, it is not harmful. However, constant exposure may lead to specific symptoms, mostly in children. Some of these symptoms may include lower IQ, stunted growth, and behavioral changes.

If the cause of contamination in your water is corrosion, you should change your water pipes. On the other hand, you can open your water source and run for a while before use. It will help wash away the lead. A reverse osmosis filter is also an alternative. By installing it in your filter, you can eliminate the lead.

2. Chromium

Chromium is another contaminant, highly concentrated in soil, found in volcanic dust, plants, animals, and rocks. As much as it is in solid elements, chromium can prove to be highly lethal when it leaks into your water supply. This chemical is a carcinogen and can cause serious health problems.

Chromium is hard to detect contamination since it is odorless and tasteless. However, when your water turns yellow, this may signify the potential presence of chromium. Professionals at advise that as soon as you notice your water developing yellow tint, reach your water company or a health advisory immediately. They can also help you do the chromium test to be sure if your water is contaminated since most of the time, the yellow tint can be due to rusty pipes, which does not make it any better.

3. Copper

Copper is another water contaminant that occurs naturally in the environment. Copper plays an essential role in the functioning of your body at low and manageable levels. However, excessive consumption of copper may lead to serious side effects like:

● Stomach cramps,

● Mouth nose and eye irritation,

● Diarrhea,

● Nausea.

Too much consumption of copper can be a cause of death. If your home’s plumbing system is made of copper piping or your water is often acidic, there are chances of high copper levels. In such cases, it is advisable to consider re-piping. Running your water for at least 15 minutes every morning before use is essential, decreasing high levels of copper before exposure.

4. Fluoride

Fluoride can be found in wells and other water sources. It is essential in the prevention of tooth decay but can be very harmful when consumed excessively. Fluoride as a contaminant has many effects, including skeletal fluorosis, where bones and joints get weak and painful. When fluoride’s consumption is in excess, it causes dental fluorosis, pitting, and tooth discoloration.

Another deadly effect of fluoride is neurological damage. As much as fluoride is added to water to prevent tooth decay, water contaminated with it is a channel to neurological, gastrointestinal, and immune impairment. In cases where your water supply includes fluoride, obtaining a water gravity filter for your home is essential. It is possible to set water gravity independently, and it will leave the critical water minerals in your water source.

5. Bacteria and Viruses

Bacteria and viruses are contaminants that are hard to detect through sight, taste, or smell. It might take years as it develops in your system before you notice a problem. Some waterborne diseases are harmful and can cause illness, while others are not. 

Small levels of microbes are naturally available in water sources. Microbial contaminants like Giardia and cryptosporidium are known to cause complications related to flu from improperly kept food. Microbial contaminants include:

● Viruses are parasitic and infectious microbes that have nucleic acids and proteins that cause diseases in humans. They reproduce only among living cells.

● Bacteria are single-celled organisms, with nuclear membranes that reproduce through cell division and spores. Bacteria are also known as free-living parasites or organisms. They play a significant role in the decomposing and breakdown of wastes and dead organisms, but also cause numerous infectious diseases.

● Cysts are capsules produced by protozoans during the process of entering a reproductive stage. Unlike spores, cysts are more resistant to destruction by disinfection.

Tap water contains a variety of pollutants that increase the risk of severe health conditions. Poor hygiene and sanitation lead to sewage contaminating the water source. Sewers create a perfect environment for parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Based on the type of bacteria, you may encounter symptoms that include diarrhea and nausea.


6. Nitrate and Nitrite

Contamination from nitrate and nitrite are challenges that many homeowners with wells experience. These contaminantsare mainly in human sewage, chemical fertilizers, and animal waste. They contaminate wells through underground water channels. 

Nitrate or nitrite contamination can happen when fertilization occurs in the nearby farm fields, or septic tanks are located too close to the well. Drinking water with high nitrate levels causes methemoglobinemia, also known as a blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal. 

Methemoglobinemia is a condition that causes the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to go down dramatically. Children below six months who are given water with high nitrate levels might become very sick, leading to death. Water with a high nitrate level is an indication that herbicides and pesticides are entering the water source.

Consumption of water can expose you to a variety of harmful pollutants and pathogens. As much as the public water systems try to treat and monitor water to keep the consumers safe from contaminants, it is never enough. Not every water source receives the same service from the public water systems as wells. 

It is upon you to take the first initiative in protecting the water you drink. The first step is to know the risks for contamination and the health effects brought by the contaminants. Then you can work on ensuring that it is not causing any health problems for your family.