There are a variety of things to test your water for, to understand what package or tests to choose, it may help to know about what you are testing for.
Arsenic- Michigan has naturally higher arsenic levels in groundwater. Arsenic in drinking water may have harmful health effects depending on how much you consume and how sensitive you are to it and whether the arsenic is Organic or Inorganic. Since arsenic cannot be seen or tasted in water, laboratory testing is critical for detection! Short-term exposure to very high levels of arsenic may cause: stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, weakness, and even death; these high of levels of arsenic have not been shown in Michigan. Long-term exposure to low levels of inorganic arsenic in drinking water is known to cause human health problems including: cancer, thickening and discoloration of the skin, problems with blood vessels, high blood pressure, heart disease, nerve effects including numbness and/or pain, and interference with some important cell functions.
The EPA has set a Maximum Contaminate Level Goal of 0 for Arsenic in water, but the Maximum Contaminate Level for public drinking water is 10ppb(Parts Per Billion). If your water exceeds this amount it is recommended you do not drink it or cook with it.
Chloride- One of the most commonly found anions in water, chloride often pairs with elements such as Calcium, Magnesium, and Sodium to create salts. While chlorides at low levels are harmless, sodium chloride at high levels in well water can give drinking water an unpleasant taste and be harmful to plants when used for watering. There is no federally enforceable standard for chloride in drinking water, The EPA recommends levels no higher than 250 mg/L to avoid unwanted odors and salty tastes.
Chlorine/Chloramine- Water companies and many public water systems often use a process known as chlorination to clean water. This is the process of adding chlorine or chloramine(a disinfectant) prevents disease causing germs like salmonella, campylobacter, and norovirus in our drinking water. When done properly the chlorine remains at a safe level of 4mg/L or less.
Copper- A trace amount of copper in our diet is necessary for good health, it is naturally occurring in rock, soil, plants and water, and needed by all living organisms including humans to survive. Yet in excess amounts or some forms copper can cause health problems. Copper in high levels may get into the environment through many sources such as manufacturing operations, farming, mining, and municipal or industrial wastewater releases into rivers and lakes. It can even get in your water through the corrosion of copper pipes if you water is acidic!
E-coli Bacteria- When found in water E. Coli or Escherichia coli is a strong indication of animal waste or sewage as it is a type fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. It is a large and diverse group of bacteria, some can make you sick while others are completely harmless. Some forms of E coli can cause diarrhea, others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia and other illnesses.
Fluoride- While naturally occurring and at appropriate level fluoride can be beneficial to tooth enamel. In rare instances of high levels usually due to accidental contamination of drinking water or due to fires or explosions can cause fluorosis which effects the teeth and bones. Moderate amounts lead to dental effects, but long term ingestion of large amounts can lead to potentially severe skeletal problems.
Hardness- This is when there is a higher the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water. Water hardness is not a health hazard but starts out as a nuisance and easily escalate untreated. Hardness in water can make soap and detergents less effective leaving a film on your hands when washing, your dishes. When heated, like in a water heater, this residue builds up leaving deposits of calcium carbonate in your plumbing and fixtures shortening their life and their effectiveness while in use while also leaving "hard water stains."
Iron- While iron in drinking water is not considered a health hazard, it does have aesthetic factors such as color and staining properties of water. Iron bacteria may be present in wells or grow in the distribution system. A rust-colored slime will form on fixtures and in pipes when iron bacteria are present.
Lead- The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets and fixtures. Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure level so the ideal maximum contamination level is zero as set by the EPA. In children low levels of lead exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.
Manganese- Though not considered a hazard to your health, deposits of manganese can build up in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters and water softeners. This can reduce the available quantity and pressure of the water supply, it can also affect the flavor and color of food and water.
Nitrates- A naturally formed compound when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Nitrates are also created by animals and plants in considerable amounts and are release in smoke and industrial or automotive smoke. Nitrogen is crucial for all living things but high levels of nitrates can be a health hazard especially to infants and pregnant women.
Nitrites- In the body, nitrate converts to nitrite. Nitrite interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Symptoms, such as shortness of breath and blueness of the skin, can occur rapidly over a period of days. Nitrate is the form commonly found in water, often in areas where nitrogen-based fertilizers are used. The greatest use of nitrate is as a fertilizer. Vegetables, food, and meat are the major sources of nitrate exposure.
Sulfate- When over the EPA’s Secondary Drinking Water Standards of 250 mg/ Liter, sulfate can be known to have a laxative effect also called “Travelers Diarrhea.” More common issues from elevated levels of sulfate in water are undesirable taste, odor and scaling in boilers & heat exchangers.
Sodium- In general, sodium salts are not acutely toxic because of the efficiency with which mature kidneys excrete sodium. However, acute effects and death have been reported following accidental overdoses of sodium chloride. Acute effects may include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, muscular twitching and rigidity, and cerebral and pulmonary oedema. Excessive salt intake seriously aggravates chronic congestive heart failure, and ill effects due to high levels of sodium in drinking-water have been documented.
Tannins- Currently Tannins are not known as dangerous for health but are an aesthetic problem. They are a natural organic material that may give water a tangy or tart aftertaste but may also cause a musty or earthy odor. The worst tannins do is cause water to have a faint yellow to tea-like color and can cause staining of fabrics, fixtures, china and laundry.
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You do everything with it! But do you really know what's in your water? Is it safe for you? You, your family, friends and pets are all depending on your water to keep them healthy and clean.
There a plenty of reasons you should consider getting your water tested. A great reason is illness; In yourself, your family, even your pets or plants. But just because you are all healthy doesn't mean your water is. Other reasons to test your water: Taste, Color, Odor, and Staining of clothes or fixtures(sink, toilet, tub, etc.). You may also be concerned about the materials that make up the plumbing system or the proximity of your septic system to you water well(outgoing waste to incoming water).
We offer a variety of options when it comes to testing your water, we recommend reviewing our test packages and what's included so that you can the option that best meets your needs. If you're not sure what you need give us a call and we will happily assist you in discovering what you need.
Basic Test Package: Total Coliform, e-coli Bacteria, Nitrates & Nitrites
VA Package: Total Coliform, e-coli Bacteria, Nitrates, Nitrites & Lead
City Water Test Package: Lead, Copper, Flouride & Chlorine
Comprehensive Test Package: Total Coliform, e-coli Bacteria, Nitrates, Nitrites, Lead, Arsenic, Sodium & Hardness
Individual Testing available: Arsenic, Bacteria, Chloride, Chlorine, Copper, Fluoride, Hardness, Iron, Lead, Manganese, Nitrates, pH, Sulfate, Sodium, Tannins
*Most results are back within 2 business days, rush results are available for an additional fee.* Pricing may vary. Contact us today for up to date pricing.
Oakland County Home Inspections strives to support other local companies and are proud to use AquaTest Laboratories located in White Lake, Michigan. By choosing a family owned, local business we save you postage, there is no risk of losing your test sample in the mail and the ultimate goal is to receive fast and accurate results.