Contaminated Drinking Water
Contaminated Drinking Waterb
Many people drink bottled water because they are worried about contaminants in their local drinking water. However, the truth is that the purity standards for tap water are actually much higher than those for bottled water. If that is so, you may ask, why does tap water sometimes have that funny taste?
The reason is that there are still impurities, even in tap water. This is because legal standards do not demand that tap water and its contaminants be safe, only that they present a risk factor that is acceptable. Essentially, any water that you drink, unless you take your own special steps to ensure its purity, is going to contain some level of contaminants.
So what exactly is contaminated drinking water? And, most importantly, how can you get rid of contaminants? Contaminants are molecules in your water that do not have the H2O structure of a water molecule. Contamination comes from a range of sources, including runoff from landfills and septic systems, illegally disposed of household and industrial chemicals, and washed-away agricultural chemicals.
Most contaminated drinking water from the tap does not actually pose much of a health risk; the types and levels of impurities it contains are safe or minimal enough to pose no immediate danger. However, situations can occur where the only available drinking water becomes contaminated, and in these kinds of situations, it is good to know how to remove contaminants.
The proper way to purify your contaminated drinking water depends on what kind of impurities are in it. Generally, if you do not know what kind of contaminants your drinking water contains, it is a good idea to apply all purification methods available before drinking any. However, if you know the source of the unsafe contamination, sometimes you can get away with using only one method.
There are four types of contaminants you should be concerned about. The first is microbial pathogens. These are microscopic organisms that live in your water and can cause you to become ill. The easiest way to remove microbial pathogens from your water is to boil it. If you bring the water to a strong boil and let it go for several minutes, the heat will kill any of these organisms that pose a threat to you.
The other types of contaminants can be trickier to remove. Contaminated drinking water containing organics, like pesticides and VOCs, and/or inorganics, like toxic metals and nitrate, should be run through a filter if possible. A filter will not remove all of these contaminants; the removal of some of them requires expensive equipment. But in a survival situation, it is better than nothing.
Some contaminated drinking water has been found to contain a fourth type of contaminant: radioactive elements, such as radon. Removing radon from water requires aerating the water. And even then, the safety of the water depends on how much radon was contaminating it.
To be prepared in may be a wise idea to bookmark emergency water purification or learn some of the emergency water purification methods. They offer additional safety on top of boiling and filtering, and they neutralize a wider range of contaminants. And remember that if in doubt about the safety of a particular source of drinking water, you will be better safe than sorry.