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Drinking Water Contaminants

What Contaminants Might be Lurking in Our Drinking Water?

 

A helpful glossary to some of the possible elements in our drinking water, and the terminology in relation to them.  Included in this list are:

Alachlor, Asbestos, Atrazine, Bacteria, Benzene, Carbofuran, Chlorobenzene, Chlorine, Cysts, Dichlorobenzene, Endrin, Ethylbenzene, Fluoride, Hardness, Lead, Lindane, Mercury, Micron, MTBE, Particulates, pH, Nitrates / Nitrites, Sediment, Simazine, Tetrachloroethylene, Toxaphene, Turbidity, TTHM, VOCs, 2,4-D.

Alachlor

Alachlor is a herbicide used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in crops like corn, sorghum, and soybeans. Like other herbicides, Alachlor enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.  It has actually been banned in the European Union. 

Short-term exposure to Alachlor can cause slight skin and eye irritation, while long-term exposure can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, spleen, lining of the nose & eyelids, and cancer.

Alachlor is substantially removed by: WF2CB, MWF, MWF-25231JA2006A/B, 5231JA2006A-2

Asbestos

Asbestos is a very durable, heat resistant Mineral Fiber found in a variety of building materials like insulation, floor & ceiling tiles, roofing, exterior siding, and fireproof boards. It can also be found in some appliances (in particular older models)  including toasters, broilers, slow cookers, waffle irons, dishwashers, and refrigerators.

Long-term exposure to Asbestos can cause chest & abdominal cancers and lung diseases.

Asbestos is substantially removed by: UKF8001, UKF8001AXX-212527304MWF, MWF-2,  DA29-00003F/G, DA29-00003G-2DA29-00012A, 836848 (FPEXT), FPEXT-2, M7251253FR-06, M7251253FR-06-2.

Atrazine

Atrazine is a herbicide used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. Like other herbicides, Atrazine enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to Atrazine can cause congestion of the heart, lungs, and kidneys, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, weight loss, damage to the adrenal glands

Long-term exposure to Atrazine can cause weight loss, cardiovascular damage, retinal & muscle degeneration, and cancer.

Atrazine is substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, 12527304WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2, DA29-00012A, GSWF, LT700PLT700P-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2, M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

 

Benzene

Benzene is a chemical compound used in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, resins, and synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. It is also used as a solvent in the printing, paint, and dry cleaning industries.

Short-term exposure to Benzene can cause temporary nervous system disorders, immune system depression, and Anemia. Long-term exposure can cause chromosome aberrations and cancer.

Benzene is substantially removed by: MWF, MWF-2, LT700P, LT700P-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2, DA29-00012A, 4396508, 4396508-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

Carbofuran

Carbofuran is an insecticide used to control beetles, nematodes, and rootworm on crops like alfalfa, rice, corn, grapes, etc. Like other insecticides, Carbofuran enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.  It is banned in Canada and the European Union.

Short-term exposure to Carbofuran can cause: headaches, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, chest pains, blurred vision, anxiety, muscular weakness, long-term exposure to Carbofuran can cause damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.

Carbofuran is substantially removed by: MWF, MWF-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2, DA29-00012A, 4396508, 4396508-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical element - you may remember it from high school chemistry as atomic number 17 from the periodic table. Chlorine has been used by water treatment plants in the U.S. since the early 1900's because it is a very powerful disinfectant. It kills deadly germs and microorganisms that might otherwise cause life-threatening water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery.

So, Chlorine is a good thing... as long as you don't mind the bad taste and odour that comes along with it - remember the last time you swam at the neighborhood pool? The good news is that your refrigerator filter will remove the Chlorine just before you drink the water. It's the best of both worlds really... your drinking water is safe AND tasty!

Chlorine is substantially removed by all of the refrigerator filters we sell.

Cysts

A cyst is the survivable form that parasites take on when they leave the host (you, me, your dog, etc...). The parasite goes dormant and grows a thick covering like an egg which allows it to survive in water or soil for long periods of time. The covering even allows it to survive the chlorine-based disinfectants typically used by the water treatment industry. The most common types of cyst that cause disease in humans are Giardia and Cryptosporidium.  These intestinal parasite cysts "hatch" when ingested by humans and cause intestinal disease. The diseases are not life threatening if treated, but can be dangerous to people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms Include:  diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache and  loss of appetite

Cysts are substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, 12527304WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2DA29-00012A, GSWF, LT700P, LT700P-2UKF7003AXX, UKF7003AXX-2836848 (FPEXT)FPEXT-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2, M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2DA29-00020B and DA29-00020B-2.

Dichlorobenzene

Dichlorobenzene is a colourless organic compound with a pleasant, aromatic odour. Dichlorobenzene is used in the manufacture of agricultural chemicals & herbicides, and as a solvent for things like wax, gum, resin, wood preservatives, and paints. It's also found in some insecticides, dyes, coolants, deodorizers, and degreasers.

Long-term exposure to Dichlorobenzene can cause nervous system damage, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and blood cells.

Dichlorobenzene is substantially removed by:  MWF, MWF-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2, DA29-00012A, 4396508, 4396508-24396841, 4396841-2.

Endrin

Endrin is an insecticide/rodenticide used to control insects, rodents, and birds on field crops such as cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, cereals, and ornamentals. Like other insecticides, Endrin enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to Endrin can cause tremors, difficulty breathing, mental confusion, and convulsions, while long-term exposure can cause liver damage.

Endrin is substantially removed by: 4396841, 4396841-2.

Ethylbenzene

Ethylbenzene is a chemical compound with an gasoline-like smell. Ethylbenzene is primarily used to make the chemical compound Styrene, which is used in the manufacture of a variety of plastics. Ethylbenzene is also used as a solvent, and to make some rubber and plastic wraps.

Short-term exposure to Ethylbenzene can cause drowsiness, fatigue, headaches, and mild eye and respiratory irritation. Long-term exposure can cause central nervous system damage, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and eyes.

Ethylbenzene is substantially removed by: 4396841, 4396841-2

Fluoride

Fluoride is the common name for a group of chemical compounds containing the element Fluorine.  Fluoride is added to things like toothpaste, mouth-rinse, and drinking water because studies show that it helps strengthen tooth enamel.

Fluoride is only removed by reverse-osmosis filters.

Water Hardness

If you've ever washed your hands at a friend’s house and you just can't get the soap to lather up, then you've experienced "hard water".  Hardness is the measure of the mineral content of water, and hard water typically contains excessive amounts of dissolved Calcium, Magnesium, Bicarbonates, and Sulfates.  Hard water shouldn't pose any health concerns, but it can sometimes make drinks like coffee and tea taste bitter.

You can test the hardness of your drinking water with the Total Hardness Water Test Strips.

Lead

Lead, symbol Pb from the periodic table, is extremely toxic to humans. Unfortunately, the toxicity of Lead wasn't truly understood until it had been used for many, many years in things like paint, solder, water pipes, brass plumbing fixtures, gasoline, and pottery. In fact, 75% of the houses built before 1978 contained lead based paint, and before 1987 the solder used for plumbing typically contained 50% lead. Contact with water slowly corrodes the inside walls of the pipes & fittings, as well as the solder used to connect them. As this happens, the dissolved metals flow through the pipes and out through the faucet.

The health effects of lead exposure are most severe for infants and children. For them, exposure to high levels of lead in drinking water can result in delays in physical and mental development, learning disorders, behavioral problems, and reduced attention span. Lead can also cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. For adults, exposure can cause damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, and brain, as well as high blood pressure.

Lead is substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, 12527304WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2, GSWF, LT700P, LT700P-2UKF7003AXX, DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2, DA29-00012A, 836848 (FPEXT)FPEXT-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

Lindane

Lindane is an insecticide used on pets, livestock, fruits, vegetables, cotton, wool, tobacco, and various other plants & trees. It's also used as a wood preservative, and for treating head lice & scabies on humans. Like other insecticides, Lindane enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to Lindane can cause high body temperature and pulmonary edema, while long-term exposure can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.

Lindane is substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, 12527304, WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2DA29-00012A, GSWF, LT700P, LT700P-2836848 (FPEXT), M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

Mercury

Mercury is a shiny, silver-grey, liquid metal. Symbol Hg (for the Latin word hydrargyrum which means "liquid silver"), Mercury is used in things like thermometers, barometers, fluorescent lamps, and batteries. Mercury has also been used since the early 1800's in dental fillings, commonly known as Amalgam - an alloy containing Mercury, Silver, Tin, and Copper.

Exposure to Mercury can cause neurological & kidney damage.

Mercury is substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2, LT700P, LT700P-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-2DA29-00012A, 4396508, 4396508-24396841, 4396841-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

Micron

One micron is one millionth of a meter or approximately 1/25,000 of an inch. For illustration, a human hair is about 70 microns thick.

Typically, water filters are rated by the smallest particle they can remove. Most filters can remove particles as small as 10 or 20 microns in size, but the best filters are able to remove particles smaller than 1 micron. Just remember, when it comes to removing particles, smaller is definitely better.

MTBE

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether, or MTBE, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid that smells a bit like turpentine, and dissolves easily in water. MTBE has been used in low levels since 1979 to increase the octane level in gasoline - which helps reduce engine damage caused by premature combustion, or "knocking". In 1992, levels of MTBE were raised significantly as a result of the Clean Air Act - since MTBE also increases the oxygen content, and helps the gasoline burn more completely. MTBE enters underground-water primarily as a result of leaking fuel storage tanks and pipelines.

Nitrates / Nitrites

Nitrates and Nitrites are simply chemical compounds containg Nitrogen and Oxygen. To be more specific, a Nitrate is 1 Nitrogen atom and 3 Oxygen atoms, while a Nitrite is 1 Nitrogen atom and 2 Oxygen atoms. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, the problem is that excessive amounts of Nitrates and Nitrites in the body can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. They can also combine with proteins found in some foods & medicines to form Nitrosamine - a substance which has been shown to cause cancer.

Nitrates are most troublesome to infants... particularly once they've been ingested and the body converts them to Nitrites - where they reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the infants blood. If untreated, the so-called "blue baby" disease is very serious, and can be fatal. Long-term exposure can cause hemorrhaging of the spleen, and diuresis - excessive formation of urine.

Particulates

The term "Particulates" refers to particles of rust, dirt, sand, and sediment found in drinking water. Water that contains Particulates is typically cloudy, and as you might expect, tastes and smells "dirty". By themselves, Particulates are not known to cause any adverse health effects, but they can sometimes carry other harmful organic, inorganic, and microbiological contaminants through the drinking water system.

Particulates are removed to some extent by all of the filters we sell. In general, better filters will remove finer particles. Each filter's ability to remove particulates is measured against a certain "particulate class", or particle size.

Class I - 0.5 to 1 micron

Class II - 1 to 5 microns

Class III - 5 to 15 microns

Where one micron is one millionth of a meter or approximately 1/25,000 of an inch.

For example, if a filter is rated to remove "95.1% of Particulates (Class II)", that just means that it will remove 95.1% of all particles that are between 1 and 5 microns in size.

pH

pH is a measurement of acid in a liquid is. A liquid with a low pH is very acidic, while a high pH indicates alkalinity. Acidic water can be quite corrosive, leaching metals like Lead, Copper, Iron, and Zinc from the plumbing pipes and fixtures in your home. As you might expect, these metals flow down the pipes, and into your drinking water. Alkaline water is typically "hard" - meaning it contains a lot of dissolved minerals. Hard water isn't considered a health concern, but it can give drinks like coffee and tea a bitter taste.

You can test the pH of your drinking water with pH Test Strips.

Sediment

Sediment is nothing more than dirt and rocks that settle on the bottom of lakes, rivers, and streams. Dredging, floods, or even bottom-feeding fish can sometimes stir sediment back into the water, and cause turbidity. Sediment doesn't cause any adverse health effects, but like particulates, sediment can carry other harmful organic, inorganic, and microbiological contaminants.

Sediment is removed to some extent by all of the filters we sell. In general, better filters will remove finer sediment.

Simazine

Simazine is a pre-emergent herbicide used to control broad-leaf and grassy weeds on crops like corn, asparagus, beans, oranges, and artichokes. Like other herbicides, Simazine can enter surface-water as a result of runoff, and underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to Simazine can cause changes in the blood, and weight loss, while long-term exposure can cause tremors, cancer, mutation of the genes, and damage to the testicles, liver, kidneys, and thyroid.

Tetrachloroethylene is substantially removed by: 5231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2.

Tetrachloroethylene

Tetrachloroethylene is a chemical compound used mainly in aerosol dry-cleaning products and metal degreasers, and to a lesser extent in rubber coatings, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, polishes, lubricants, and pesticides.

Long-term exposure to Tetrachloroethylene can cause liver problems and may increase the risk of getting some types of cancer.

Tetrachloroethylene is substantially removed by: 4396841, 4396841-2.

Toxaphene

Toxaphene is an insecticide used on cotton, vegetables, livestock, and poultry. In the past, it was also used to kill unwanted fish in some lakes. Like other insecticides, Toxaphene enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to Toxaphene can cause restlessness, hyperexcitability, tremors, spasms, and convulsions. Long-term exposure can cause degeneration of the liver and kidneys, damage to the central nervous system, suppression of the immune system, and cancer.

Toxaphene is substantially removed by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-2, WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2 DA29-00012A, 4396508, 4396508-24396841, 4396841-2, 836848 (FPEXT)FPEXT-25231JA2006A/B5231JA2006A-2.

Turbidity

Turbidity is a measure of how clear the water is. Water with a lot of suspended solids, appears murky, and has a high level of Turbidity. Suspended solids can be anything from microscopic floating plants like Phytoplankton, to clays and silts, or even sediment that's been stirred back into the water by dredging, floods, or bottom-feeding fish like carp. These suspended solids can sometimes carry toxic organic contaminants, pesticides, and heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, and lead.

Turbidity is reduced by: UKF8001UKF8001AXX-212527304, WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2DA29-00012A, GSWF, LT700P, LT700P-2UKF7003AXX, UKF7003AXX-2DA29-00003F/GDA29-00003G-24396841, 4396841-2, 4396508, 43965058-2M7251253FR-06M7251253FR-06-2.

TTHM (Total TriHaloMethanes)

Trihalomethanes (TTHM or THM) are the by-products of the water disinfection process. Typically, disinfectants like Chlorine react with the naturally occurring organic matter in the water they are disinfecting. This process produces things like Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane, Bromodichloromethane, and Bromoform. Fortunately, the health risks of TTHMs are very small compared with the risks of inadequately disinfected water.

VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)

VOCs include chemicals that are both man-made and naturally occurring. The VOCs we're most likely to be exposed to come in the form of pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides that enter the water supply as a result of runoff. Other VOCs enter the water supply through the disposal of industrial waste. This can include things like total trihalomethanes (TTHM), a by-product of the chlorination process.

2,4-D

2,4-D is a herbicide used to control broad-leaf weeds in crops like wheat and corn, and on pasture and rangelands. It's also used to control woody plants along roadsides, railways, and powerlines. Like other herbicides, 2,4-D enters surface-water as a result of runoff, and enters underground-water by leaching - that's when water from rain, irrigation, or other sources flows through the soil, dissolves the chemicals in it, and carries them down into the groundwater that supplies wells and springs.

Short-term exposure to 2,4-D can cause damage to the nervous system, while long-term exposure can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.

 2,4-D is substantially removed by:  12527304, WF2CB, MWF, MWF-2DA29-00012A, LT700P, LT700P-24396841, 4396841-2.

 

 

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