Water Purification Systems
For Your Health
Approximately 23 million people in the U.S. get their water directly
from private wells, many without water purification systems . Most wells tap an underground
aquifer. Although the aquifer appears protected from sources of contamination, it
can become polluted from industrial spills, underground fuel tank leaks, fertilizer, or
wastes that seep into the ground. Ground sources can migrate several miles, which means
your well may be contaminated by an industrial facility or farm miles "up
gradient" from your home. Also consider contaminants from local lake
water. Wells are also susceptible to sediment contamination, so what comes
from your tap may appear discolored or "dirty." Even public
treatment plants are not 100% effective.
For this reason, you should have your well tested
once or twice per year. To have
it tested, call a local analysis laboratory. Lists of laboratories certified by your state
or EPA may be available from your state or local health department. Some local health
departments also test private wells for free. You may also want to look
online for certified home testing kits.
Tests for contaminants such as nitrate and Coliform bacteria
performed by a private laboratory usually cost between $10 and $20. Cost increases if you
ask the laboratory to test for other contaminants. Once the laboratory performs the tests,
it will mail you the results. You can compare the results to EPA's National Primary
Drinking Standards and National Secondary Drinking Standards to find out if your source
falls below levels EPA thinks are safe for certain contaminants.
In the U.S., there are about 55,000 public water purification
systems. EPA mandates that these plants test for close to 80 contaminants. In 1996, 7% of
these plants, or 4,151, reported one or more violation of EPA standards for these
regulated contaminants. Less than 2%, or 681, did not use an EPA-required treatment
technique to eliminate certain pollutants.
Most community water purification systems obtain their water from surface sources, like
rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. These bodies, open to the environment, are susceptible to
pollution. Animal waste can contaminate surface sources with bacteria like Giardia and
Cryptosporidium. Industries can discharge their wastes into surface water, adding hazardous
organic contaminants to the source you may drink. Storm water drains can empty into rivers
and lakes with rainwater that's carrying gasoline, oil, and any number of hazardous and
bacterial wastes. Rainwater can also carry fertilizers and pesticides from fields into
streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Even train derailments and truck accidents that
cause tankers to spill their contents can contaminate surface sources.
Cryptosporidium in particular is difficult for treatment facilities to eliminate. Each
Cryptosporidium microorganism is covered by an outer shell, called a oocyst, that is
impervious to disinfection chemicals like chlorine. On rare occasions, these oocysts pass
untreated through treatment plants to your home.
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If you need help choosing the right filter for your needs, or need
additional information, please call our
Customer Service Department at