Water is one of the most important things in our life. Scientists claim that we must drink not less than 2 liters every day to stay healthy. But sometimes drinking water includes different impurities which can be harmful. This article will help you to know everything about contaminants and how to get rid of them.
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What are Impurities in Water?
Nowadays it is very hard to find pure and clean drinking water because of worldwide water pollution. Pollute water includes harmful elements for human health like dust, micro-organisms, clay, heavy metals and so on.
Micro-organisms and bacteria presenting in water cause diseases like giardiasis, hepatitis, bloody flux and etc.
Common Impurities in Drinking Water
If you think that some water impurities are absolutely safe for your health, it’s wrong. Each of them has its own level of danger. Read to know about it.
Micro-organisms and a great variety of bacteria live even in drinking water. Some of them are biologically harmless for our health, but most are not.
The most common micro-organisms:
- Cryptosporidium. These unicellular organisms are intestinal parasites. Getting into human intestine they usually cause diarrhoeal disease which is also called cryptosporidiosis. In most cases, 99% of these organisms perish after the filtration of water. But there is always the risk of infection.
- Anabaena. This cyanobacterium lives in freshwater all around the world. It produces neurotoxins which provoke a respiratory arrest and finally death. Fortunately, modern water filters help to get rid of this dangerous bacterium.
- Rotifer. One of the most famous micro-organisms that contaminate drinking water. Rotifers may be 1 millimeter long; it means that they can be seen with the naked eye. These bacteria don’t harm human health but they can carry cryptosporidium.
- Copepods. These are very dispersed species of parasites which belong to a group of crustaceans. Copepods can be 2 millimeters long and look like miniature shrimps. The most awful fact about them is that they live everywhere. But their orientation is really interesting because they feed on toxins.
- Escherichia Coli. Everyone knows this bacterium which can be found in any food and drink. It is worth noting that a number of E. coli presents in any type of water and it’s absolutely safe. But if the bacteria level increases, it can provoke diseases.
- Mold. In other words, it’s a common fungus which is considered to be a microbe. It propagates with spores and can live even in water. A mold secretes health damaging toxins; however, they are dangerous for people only in a high concentration.
- Naegleria Fowleri. It is an amoeba that looks like a mold spot. This facultative parasite attacks the human nervous system. They are also called brain-eating amoeba. A person can be infected after swimming in the river when, for example, swallowing polluted water. It’s a very hazardous bacterium which can cause meningoencephalitis.
- Legionella. You may have heard about Legionnaires’ disease induced by this type of bacteria. About eighteen thousands of people get to a hospital with symptoms of legionellosis every year. The main reason for this disease is polluted water. Usually, legionella lives in hot water supply systems.
- Chaetomium. This fungus exists in any moist places. In case, it gets into the water, you can’t drink it because of the considerable changing of smell and taste. Bacteria don’t endanger human health but sometimes it can cause allergy.
- Salmonella. The micro-organism is the reason for the well-known disease called salmonellosis. This bacterium is a real danger for children and older people who have low immunological protection.
There are a lot of heavy metals which can be found in water. Despite their natural origin, they are still harmful to human health.
Here is some information about the most widespread of them:
- Lead. It doesn’t have any smell or taste and can be spotted in water only after chemical analysis. High levels of lead provoke acute or chronic poisoning which may even result in death. This metal can build up in tissues of the human organism, especially in hair, nails and mucous membrane of gums. Lead also affects the nervous system, intestine, and kidneys. Only filtration or electrolysis of water helps to get rid of this heavy metal.
- Arsenic. This chemical element has no odor or taste and gets into water from natural deposits or because of industrial processes. Arsenic causes problems with skin and cardiovascular system, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, partial paralysis, and blindness. The main threat is the increased risk of different types of cancer.
- Mercury. The work of industrial enterprises is the main source for getting this metal into water. It’s very bad for the human nervous system and kidneys. If you drink water with a high level of mercury, it will cause a disturbance of the psyche, hearing and visual impairments, cramping and renal failure. Even a low dose of this chemical element is hazardous, especially, for pregnant women. Unfortunately, the acceptable level of mercury in drinking water is still not established due to its tendency to build up in the human organism.
- Cadmium. It’s one of the most toxic heavy metal. The most common places for cadmium accumulation in the body are kidneys and a liver. This element also can be found in the pancreas, tubular bones, spleen, and other organs. High concentrations of cadmium provoke high blood pressure, anemia, lungs and liver lesion, deformation of the skeleton and osteoporosis. Even 13-15 mg of cadmium makes the water toxic and causes the symptoms of food poisoning.
- Chromium. There are two forms of this chemical element usually presenting in potable water: chromium-3 and chromium 6. The first one is essential for health and contains in most vegetables and fruit, meat, cereal crops, and yeast. Chromium-6 is potentially harmful to the human organism and can be the reason for different types of allergic dermatitis.
- Copper. In some cases, this element is beneficial to our health. It’s good for metabolic processes and exhibits bactericidal action. If you suffer from skin disorders, washing in copper water can help to ease the itch. But the high level of this microelement in the body causes intoxication. The abuse of copper water induces kidney and liver diseases which can result in coma and even death.
- Zinc. The most dangerous is not the metal itself, but its salts and chemical compounds, especially, chlorides, sulfates, and oxides. The first symptoms of the overdose can appear even after the first drinking of water containing 200 mg of zinc compounds. The chemical builds up in the body and leads to cancer and chronic illnesses.
- Molybdenum. This element imparts astringent taste to water and the recommended level of it is not more than 0, 07 mg/L. The dose of 10-15 mg causes the increase of uric acid, osteoporosis, pain in hands and feet, eating disorders.
- Selenium. It’s a very healthy element if its concentration in water is 0,01 mg/L. A single large dose of selenium results in acute toxic exposure. The excessive intake of the chemical causes the disease called selenosis which has symptoms like hair loss, the fragility of nails, dermatitis, caries, and disorders in digestive organs.
- Iron. High level of this chemical element gives water an unpleasant metallic taste. The everyday drinking of water with iron leads to hemochromatosis. The early symptoms of this disease are a general weakness, joint pain, and impotence by men.
- Manganese. A lot of scientific researches show that long exposure to manganese adversely affects pregnancy and exerts a toxic influence on the human organism. The recommended level of manganese in drinking water is between 0,03 and 0,05 mg/L.
- Aluminum. Every day we get from 5 to 20 mg of this element, the most part of it comes from water. It was identified that high doses of aluminum have a neurotoxic effect which provokes senile dementia. In addition, it leaches calcium, that’s why it is especially dangerous for children developing bodies.
Non-metallic Impurities in Water
The most common non-metallic contaminants are the following:
- Fluorine. This element plays an important role in the human organism, especially, for teeth and bones. But excess fluorine leads to dental and skeletal fluorosis and also can destroy your liver constantly building up in it. It also causes different diseases of the thyroid gland. There exists a theory about the connection between Down syndrome and fluoridation of water. It is explained by the fact that some brain enzymes are sensitive to this microelement.
- Chlorine. It gets to the water in the process of chlorination for the purpose of disinfection. This chemical is highly toxic and suppresses the immune system. It also provokes allergy and bronchial asthma attacks can lead to cardiovascular and oncological diseases. Water containing chlorine is good only for domestic needs but not for drinking.
- Bromine. Human blood, saliva, urine, also brain and liver cells contain this chemical element. Some enterprises dump sewage in rivers; this is the common reason why bromine can be found in water. You mustn’t use it for drinking because it causes nervous system problems and a skin condition like bromoderma.
- Boron. High levels of this chemical in water make it unusable to drink. Boron leads to body dehydration, builds up in organs and blood vessels, what is more, it’s very hard to excrete from human organism. The long term consumption of water with this harmful impurity may result in intoxication with nausea, diarrhea, and pruritic rash.
- Iodine. In moderation, this chemical element is good for our body. But the high content of iodine in water may cause headaches, weakness, vomiting, and tachycardia. In most cases, it enters the water from sewage, evaporation and ingenious rocks.
Pesticides and Herbicides
In other words, pesticides and herbicides are chemicals which are used in the fight against rodents, noxious insects, weeds and so on. Despite they protect harvest; their toxic level is very high and dangerous for health.
Pesticides get into the water from the soil and then into the human organism.
There is a list of problems which can be caused by these chemicals:
- Development of different chronic diseases.
- Hormone imbalances.
- Cancer that occurs in brain, liver, lungs, intestine and mammary gland.
- The threat to fetal development also can provoke lung diseases by a fetus.
- Maybe the reason for autism and Parkinson’s syndrome.
Nowadays, the concentration of pesticides and herbicides in soil is under control. But it doesn’t mean that you can forget about these contaminants when drinking water.
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are impurities which also can present in drinking water. The investigation in 2002 found a lot of medical products in rivers like antibiotics, pain killers and other drugs.
Pharmaceutical compounds get into the water because of improper use and recycling. This problem is of current interest and scientists are still working on it.
Rust and Sediment
How to Check Impurities in Water?
The most reliable method to determine impurities is a laboratory investigation. But usually it is difficult to be done and in this case, you can check the quality of water at home.
The most popular ways to test your drinking water:
- Organoleptic test. You have to use your sense organs (smell and sight). Good drinking water doesn’t have any taste and odor, it is colorless and clear. You can also use a mirror or a glass. Put a drop of water on it and wait for it to dry. If a mirror is clean it means that there aren’t any salts and harmful impurities. In case, you see some muddy spots, it’s better not to drink this water.
- Boiling. Take a clean saucepan, fill it with water and boil for 15 minutes. Then pour out all the water and carefully examine its bottom and sides. If there is a light yellow deposit it indicates the calcium salts. Dark grey deposit appears because of iron oxide. Water hardness can be also determined by boiling or hand washing. If soap badly foams under it and scale always builds up on the sides of your kettle, it means that your water is very hard.
- Long-term water storage. Find a transparent bottle, fill it with water and screw the cap, then put it in dark place for several days. If your water is clean, after this period of time, there won’t be any deposits, sediment or film on its surface.
- Permanganic acid. Take a glass, fill it with 100 ml of water and add a little potassium permanganate to it. Pour the same amount of water in another glass and mix them. If the solution turns yellow, the quality of water is bad for drinking.
Read More: How to Make Distilled Water for Humidifier?
How to Get Rid of the Harmful Impurities?
The best ways to remove impurities from water:
- Sedimentation. Take a bucket, fill it with water and keep for 5 or 6 hours. During this time, chlorine will evaporate and all the salts precipitate. Then pour this water in another bucket and boil it in order to completely get rid of chlorine and kill invading pathogens. The rest of the salts will also stay on the sides or bottom of your bucket as scale deposits.
- Filtration. Water filters are popular nowadays and sold in every shop. Sometimes we haven’t got it for some reasons, but want to get clean water immediately. That’s why everyone should know how to make a filter with own hands. You need activated charcoal, one plastic bottle and a container for clean water, a large piece of gauze and a knife. First, take a bottle and cut off its bottom. Then take gauze, fold it in several layers and place it in the bottleneck. Wrap the activated charcoal in the remainder of gauze and put it also in the neck of your bottle. Turn it upside down and place above the container for clean water. Pour the water in the bottle from the side of its cut-out bottom; it will be cleaning by passing through gauze and charcoal.
- Freezing. In order to get rid of different microorganisms, you have to freeze your water for 10 hours. Then defrost it at room temperature and at the end of it there will be a small muddy piece of ice containing most of the harmful impurities, throw it away. According to some researches, meltwater makes your youth last longer and promotes general health improvement.
- Silver. It has long been known that this metal has bactericidal properties. It is very important to use only sterling silver for water purification. You have just to put the metal in the water, but don’t keep it there for a long time; otherwise, it can make it toxic.
- Silicon. This metal can also be used as absorbent in water treatment. First of all, you need to rinse it and then put in the glass jar with water. Cover it with gauze and keep in a dark place for several days. Remember that this water mustn’t be boiled and the jar should be always closed.