14 Common Types of Water Contamination


In recent years, a lot of people have become aware that their drinking water is unsafe to drink straight from the tap. What is in our drinking water? According to research we may conclude that there are 14 common types of water contamination.


Here is a list of common contaminants and the health problems that could be associated with each contaminant:


  1. Legionella: the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires Disease. Legionnaires Disease is a respiratory illness which ails many people each year. It can cause flu-like symptoms.


  1. Arsenic: the EPA says prolonged arsenic exposure can be linked to cancer as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurotoxicity.


  1. Copper: can leach from copper pipes, especially if the pipes are old or if the water going through the pipes is too acidic. Copper toxicity can result from both long-term and short-term exposure to high levels of copper. General symptoms may include gastric upset, migraines and headaches, and in worse case scenarios, kidney failure.


  1. Lead: can leach into the water supply from corrosive lead pipes. Lead poisoning can be very dangerous to little children and babies. For children, it can lead to developmental delays, learning disabilities, abnormal kidney function, anemia, and nervous system issues. Adults may experience memory loss, lack of concentration and focus, mental fuzziness, depression, nervous system issues, reproductive issues such as miscarriages, loss of sex drive, cardiovascular issues, and kidney disorders.


  1. Mercury: can be naturally occurring in water. It comes from natural mineral deposits. It can also be in the water supply from contamination from factories and refineries. Mercury poisoning can cause serious kidney issues as well as affect your hearing and speech difficulties, vision issues, cause cognitive issues having to do with mental acuity, muscle weakness, nerve issues with face and hands, and loss of stability while walking.


  1. Chromium: there are two types of chromium found in water. One is called trivalent (chromium-3), and the other is called hexavalent (chromium-6). Trivalent is the good mineral you want in your water. Its naturally occurring. Hexavalent can also naturally occurring, but some of it is not. It seeps into the water supply from industrial waste. According to the EPA, hexavalent chromium is likely to cause cancer in humans.


  1. Fluoride: some cities add fluoride to their drinking water. It comes from the natural element fluorine which can be found naturally in water. Unfortunately, especially in the western US and the areas around the Great Lakes, toxic levels of fluorine can be found naturally in the drinking water. Studies on the effects of fluoride show that it is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. Too much fluoride can also cause pitting on the enamel of the teeth.


  1. Giardia: is a parasite that can get into the water supply. Giardia causes severe diarrhea that in some cases gets serious enough to need hospitalization.


  1. Chloramine and chlorine: are added to a water supply as a way to clean and disinfect the water. Chloramine can cause serious issues to kidney dialysis patients. It also causes skin issues, eye problems, stomach aches, and cold-like symptoms. Chlorine can cause hair and skin to lose its natural oil, causing itchy flaky skin disorders like eczema and dandruff. It can also cause birth defects if pregnant women ingest chlorinated water. Chlorine can also cause breathing issues, food allergies, and cancer.


  1. Nitrite and Nitrates: these are mostly a problem with people who have wells. Especially in areas where agriculture and farming are being done nearby the well. Nitrites and nitrates can seep into the water supply. They are also sometimes in commercial-grade fertilizer. Nitrates can cause blue baby syndrome, which can be fatal. Nitrites and nitrates can both cause cancer.


  1. Aluminum: leaches into the water supply through soil and rocks because it is naturally occurring. Aluminum in water can cause a very serious risk to kidney dialysis patients.


  1. Manganese: mineral that is naturally occurring in rocks that gets into the water supply. Manganese contamination could cause discoloration to the water and a strong taste. It can also cause neurological disorders in infants and children.


  1. Calcium and Magnesium: are very beneficial minerals in small amounts. Calcium and Magnesium can cause hard water mineral deposits. Toxic levels of these minerals can cause cardiovascular disorders and cancer.


  1. Sulfur: gives water a rotten-egg smell. It seeps into the water supply by decaying dirt and water. It gives off an unpleasant salty-bitter taste. Sulfur in the water supply can cause diarrhea and stomach issues.



These are some of the most common 14 types of water contamination. If you are interested in finding out what is in your water supply, you can buy a DIY test kit online and do it at home, or you can buy a kit and send it in to be tested. The EPA in 1996 enacted Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  It has identified more than 90 contaminants that may be found in drinking water. The next  post will compare different types of water filters so you can adequately decide which filter to purchase for your family.



Sources other than hyper-links:

  1. Top 13 Most Common Water Contaminants, written by Jodie Calhoun, November 21, 2021.
  2. 23 Common Water Contaminants and Their Potential Risks, written by Water Right Group, November 7, 2019.
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