The primary source of copper in drinking water results from the corrosion of copper used in plumbing fixtures and pipes. Water leaving a public water supply may be tested and considered safe before leaving the plant. It must travel through piping that may be old and deteriorating and can become contaminated with copper. Although copper is an essential nutrient, at high doses it has resulted in the stomach and intestinal problems, liver and kidney damage, and anemia.
Most noted for causing kidney damage and even kidney failure. The manufacturing of dry cell batteries, thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, paint, dental preparations, electrical switches, pesticides, and in some pharmaceutical applications, account for a significant amount of mercury leaching into water environments. As cited by the EPA, from 1987 to 1993, Mercury released to land and water totaled nearly 68,000 lbs., of which 90 percent was to land. These releases were primarily from chemical and allied industries. The largest releases occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana. The biggest direct releases to water occurred in West Virginia and Alabama.
As established by the EPA, the major environmental releases of inorganic sources of nitrates are due to the use of fertilizers. According to the Toxic Release Inventory, releases to water and land totaled over 112 million pounds from 1991 through 1993. The largest releases of inorganic nitrates occurred in Georgia and California. Primary inorganic nitrates that can contaminate drinking waters are potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate. Potassium nitrates are used in the development of fertilizers, glass, ceramics, matches, and fireworks. Ammonium is most commonly found in fertilizers and dangerous products.
Inorganic Contaminant Removal
In the event levels of inorganic contaminants need to be reduced or eliminated, industry has provided some solutions. The environmental industry recommends the use of distillation units, ion exchange systems, lime softening systems, and reverse osmosis systems.
In instances when residential water comes from a public water system, the water is tested for contaminants frequently. Federal and state governing standards require it. This does not mean, however, that the water is necessarily safe, because public water supplies may have water quality problems caused by inadequate municipal water treatment facilities or distribution systems. Additionally, water can become contaminated by degrading plumbing fixtures such as pipes and fixtures located near or on a property. The general recommendation for all buyers who wish to assess the safety and quality of their prospective water supply is that they test the water of the property. In general, the test should look for coliform bacteria, nitrate, lead, iron, hardness, pH, sulfate, total dissolved solids (TDS), corrosion index and other parameters depending on proximity to potential sources of contamination.