Industry insights

What Is In My Tap Water?

2 min read

By Will Vickery |  Published

The quality of tap water can vary around the country. But do you actually know what is in your tap water? The total number of contaminates in tap water across the UK is unknown. But, research has shown that we know 14 contaminants can be found in water supplies across the UK, with the most common of these chemicals being chlorine, fluoride and aluminium.

In small amounts the majority of these chemicals will cause no harm, however they can be an issue at more concentrated levels. Despite this, one of the big concerns for people is how the contaminants affect the taste of the water.

Why does my tap water contain chemicals?

The two main reasons why we find chemicals in our tap water supplies, are firstly because very small amounts of chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride are put into the water to provide health protection benefits. Chlorine is known to help reduce harmful bacteria growth, whilst fluoride can help improve dental health. Secondly there are various naturally occurring chemicals such as Nitrate and Arsenic that occur during the water provision process. In most cases these chemicals pose few health risks, due to the small amount of traces that are actually in the water.

Chemicals and your health

Chlorine is perhaps the most scrutinised chemical of all when it comes to possible health concerns. When you take into account its level of application and the fact that in rare cases, consuming the chemical has been found to be linked to several forms of cancer, asthma and heart disease.  Similarly in rare cases fluoride has been linked to several conditions affecting the brain and thyroid as well as being associated with a number of behavioural issues.

Potential problems with chemical by-products

Most people are often unaware that the by-products that are created between these chemicals, and during the transition of the water, are the substances that pose a more serious threat to our health. Aluminium for example provides a particular cause for concern, as it can raise the acidity of the water, which in turn results in water absorbing more significant levels of lead, cadmium, copper and other heavy metals from pipes, which can cause a plethora of negative side effects.

It’s also worth noting that the testing of chemicals found in drinking supplies only happens at the source, and the water that arrives in our homes and businesses could well be very different to the water at its original filtration plant.

This can in fact cause two of the more serious water contaminations issues:

  • Lead – Lead can enter water whilst in transition via corroded pipes and has been found to be linked to learning difficulties, behavioural problems, mental and physical problems, hypertension, strokes and heart disease. Lead poisoning, which is extremely dangerous can sometimes require years before any symptoms are shown – by which point health complications may be irreversible.
  • Giardia and cryptosporidium – These forms of bacterial contamination are commonly responsible for gastro intestinal diseases and can enter our water supplies where there are issues with sanitisation

What should you do if you discover chemicals in your water?

Given the number of chemicals in our water supplies, being able to monitor and test for each one is a difficult task. If you have a reason to believe that your water is contaminated, whether due to a change in colour, odour or taste, our advice is that you get in touch with your local water service provider or a qualified plumber to test your water.

If you have any further questions then do not hesitate to contact us.