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Home » Common Tap Water Contaminants

Common Tap Water Contaminants

tap water contaminants

Should You Be Concerned?

Regulation is Not a Guarantee of Water Safety

drinking water quality

When you turn on the tap, you expect the water coming out to be safe. As we’ve seen in countless news stories though, this isn’t always the case. Although our municipal water supplies are regulated, this doesn’t guarantee that while en route from the reservoir to your home, nothing will be leached into your water. It also does not protect you against emerging tap water contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and hormones, since these contaminants are not yet regulated by the EPA.

Top Waterborne Contaminants Include:

Some of the most common tap water contaminants across North America include Lead, Mercury, Chlorine, Chloramine, Organic Chemicals (including pesticides, herbicides, gasoline and detergents), and Emerging Contaminants (including pharmaceuticals and hormones).

For more information about each of these contaminants keep reading . . .


lead exposure from water supply pipes

Lead exposure, especially in young children, can have both physical and behavioral effects. Even with low levels of exposure, lead has been linked to many serious health issues including nerve damage, learning disabilities, decreased kidney function, hypertension and birth defects. 

It’s because of this that EPA has set a maximum lead contaminant level goal of zero under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This means that they believe any presence of lead could be harmful. One of the reasons lead is so dangerous is that it bioaccumulates in your body, meaning that while any exposure can impose health risks, these risks will continue to increase over time as your body continues to store additional lead. 



While inorganic forms of Mercury are less likely to cause harm to adults, they can still cause issues for children and potentially be passed from mothers to their unborn children. 

Organic Mercury Compounds are much more harmful as “they are easily absorbed into the blood through the digestive tract and, at high levels, can damage the nervous system and kidneys.” When children are exposed to high levels of mercury, it can lead to lifelong development issues.

Chlorine and Chloramine

Chlorine and Chloramine are common disinfectants used by water treatment plants throughout the country. Unfortunately, if not properly removed, chlorine or chloramine left in the water supply can lead to multiple issues including bad taste and odor in drinking water, and causing and/or aggravating respiratory problems and skin reactions (such as rashes, flaking, drying, eye irritation, etc.) in the shower.

If chloramine levels are high enough, they have even been linked more serious problems in the digestive system and kidneys. 

Organic Chemicals (Pesticides, Herbicides, Detergents and VOCs)

crop duster spraying field with organic chemicals

Organic chemicals are a group of chemical compounds that are used in many products “such as pesticides, gasoline, dry-cleaning solvents and degreasing agents.” These chemicals find their way into our water sources through both runoff and by being flushed down drains daily.

Typically these will only impact your health when exposure occurs over long periods of time, but they can lead to cardiovascular problems as well as reproductive problems. 

Emerging Contaminants (Pharmaceuticals, Hormones)

emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals can be found in drinking water supply

According to the EPA, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), are increasingly being detected at low levels in surface water. These chemicals are being found to impact the endocrine system leading to a variety of health effects caused by fluctuations in hormonal health. 

How Do You Find Out Which Contaminants are in Your Water?

Knowing these contaminants can find their way into municipal water supplies, how can you protect yourself? Thankfully, there are several steps that you can take that are relatively easy. 

Get Your Water Tested

Getting your water tested is the best way to get an accurate picture of what’s actually in your tap water.

When looking for a test, be sure to avoid TDS meters. Instead, look for an option that tests for a broad range of actual contaminants, not just total dissolved solids (TDS). 

The reason you want to avoid a TDS meter is because TDS is a poor measure of water quality. TDS in drinking water is usually attributed to the amount of beneficial minerals (such as calcium, potassium and magnesium) present in your water supply. These beneficial minerals are known to support good health and improve taste. Find a water testing kit that actually measures the levels of unwanted contaminants that are a true concern.

A number of quality diy at-home water test kits are available. Alternatively, you can contact your local water authority directly for a reference to an independent lab where you can send your water sample for testing. 

How Do I Remove Contaminants from My Water?

Consider Adding a Quality Water Filtration System

Once you know what contaminants are in your drinking water, an easy way to protect yourself is to invest in water filtration system. Look for a point-of-use water filter or whole house water filtration system that targets your specific contaminants. As you begin to shop for your filter, it is extremely important to find a system that has been tested and certified (for NSF/ANSI Standards) by one of industry’s trusted third-party testing laboratories: WQA, NSF or IAPMO. 

Sadly, the water filtration industry is riddled with manufacturers who make unvalidated, exaggerated and even completely false claims. This is why it is so important to look for a water filter that is certified by a trusted independent NSF/ANSI testing source. This will ensure that your filter system is actually removing all of the contaminants and contaminant levels that the manufacturer claims in their performance data sheet.

WaterChef offers a variety of powerful water filtration solutions that are capable of reducing a broad range of common tap water contaminants, including the EVO100 Whole House Water Filtration System, the U9000 Under-Sink Water Filter System, and C7000 Countertop Water Filter System. Additionally, the SF-7C Shower Filter provides powerful chlorine reduction for your shower as well.

All WaterChef filtration systems are independently tested and certified by WQA (the Water Quality Association) or IAPMO. These are two of the most trusted and highly regarded NSF/ANSI testing laboratories in the water filtration industry. Requiring the strictest of compliance standards, they are valued by consumers, manufacturers and regulatory agencies worldwide.

6 Responses

    1. Thank you for your question, Ronda. Yes, all WaterChef filter systems remove sediment from the water.

  1. I’m glad you explained why it’s a good idea to get our water tested. My sister is dealing with contaminants in her tap water. I’ll have to share this info so she can develop the best plan for moving forward.

  2. It’s interesting to know that hormones can be considered as contaminants in water systems. I’m thinking about getting a new drinking water system installed in my home in order to make sure that my family is drinking water that is as pure as possible. Hopefully, I can also ask the installer about the kinds of contaminants I should watch out for.

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drinking water quality

Do You Need a Water Filter?

Do you know what’s in your drinking water? If you’re not sure, you are not alone. We’re here to help with a step-by-step guide.

Be sure to do your research.

Why Independent NSF/ANSI Certification?

The water filtration industry is riddled with manufacturers who make false and unsubstantiated performance claims. How do you know who you can trust?

lead in water

Is There Lead in My Drinking Water?

Lead is a concern in many areas of the US, especially in older homes and buildings. Learn how to protect you and your family.

drinking water quality

Do You Need a Water Filter?

Do you know what’s in your drinking water? If you’re not sure, you are not alone. We’re here to help with a step-by-step guide.

Be sure to do your research.

Why Independent NSF/ANSI Certification?

The water filtration industry is riddled with manufacturers who make false and unsubstantiated performance claims. How do you know who you can trust?


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