What’s In Your Water?
Well water can become contaminated without any change in the water’s taste, smell or appearance. The following are common contaminants found in residential wells throughout the United States.
Please keep in mind that your well may not have any of the following contaminants, so please use this list as a guideline:
- ARSENIC This toxic element is found naturally in soil and bedrock, but occurs in particularly high levels in Northeast Wisconsin. Ingestion can lead to serious health problems.
- CHLORIDES Small amounts of salt are natural. Higher levels are unnatural and may indicate a faulty water softener, road salt, septic waste or fertilizer contamination.
- COLIFORM BACTERIA A natural part of the microbiology of soils, insects, and warm blooded animals, coliform bacteria is the primary indicator for the presence of disease-causing organisms in water.
- FLUORIDE Found naturally in water. While low levels of fluoride are desirable, excessive amounts may stain teeth.
- HARDNESS Interferes with cleaning tasks from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. These deposits also collect in household plumbing lines, water heaters and appliances, causing them to run less efficiently.
- HYDROGEN SULFIDE A gas dissolved in water. It is easily detected by its rotten egg odor.
- IRON Not considered hazardous to health, but when the level of iron in water exceeds the DNR 0.3 mg/l limit, we experience red, brown, or yellow staining of laundry, glassware, dishes and household appliances. The water may also have a metallic taste and an offensive odor. Water piping and fixtures can also become restricted or clogged.
- LEAD Houses built before 1985 may contain lead pipes or lead-based solder. Lead can cause serious health problems in young children.
- MANGANESE A metal found in rock, and does not occur naturally in pure form. Manganese will cause black staining and many times is accompanied by iron and hydrogen sulfide. Evidence of manganese staining is most prominently found in the dishwasher.
- NITRATES Elevated levels can be an indication of contamination by farm chemicals, lawn fertilizers, or septic saturation. Nitrates can pose a serious health risk to infants.
- SULFATES High levels of sulfates can cause odors, leave spots, taste bitter and have a temporary laxative effect.