Chemical Contaminants Nitrate, phosphates, total dissolved solids By: Hannah Nick Kara
What are chemical contaminants? Chemical contaminants are chemicals or compounds that can potentially harm the heath of humans, wildlife and aquatic life. These can include nitrates, phosphates, and total dissolved solids.
Nitrates Nitrate is a colorless, odorless, tasteless compound that is found in water systems. It is usually expressed as NO3. Maximum Nitrate levels are 10mg/l. Anything higher may cause methemoglobinemia, a disease commonly found in infants, and blue-baby syndrome. It can enter the water system through nitrogen fertilizers, human/animal wastes, and natural sources.
Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder that gives the skin a bluish-grey tint. It is caused by recessive genes, ingestion of silver or high levels of nitrates in water systems.
Phosphates Phosphates are found naturally in water systems and are necessary for plant and animal growth. High levels of phosphates may cause algae to bloom rapidly, which may result in chocked waterways and the loss of dissolved O2, which may cause the death of aquatic plants and animals. Phosphates are not toxic to humans unless they are present in high levels. Phosphorus enters the waterways through phosphorus rich bedrock, laundry/cleaning water, detergents, industrial effluents, and fertilizer runoff.
Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) • Comprises any inorganic salts (mainly calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfate) and a small amount of organic matter dissolved in the water. • TDS in drinking water originate from natural sources, sewage, urban runoff, industrial wastewater, and chemicals used in the water treatment process and the plumbing. • Regulated mainly for aesthetic reasons rather than health reasons. • The concentration of dissolved ions may cause water to become corrosive, have a salty or brackish taste, result in scale formation, and decrease efficiency of water heaters.
Bottled mineral water tends to contain higher TDS levels then tap water.