Common Water Contaminants & How To Filter Them


As a health-conscious individual, I understand the importance of drinking clean and safe water. However, it’s not always easy to know what’s in our tap water, and whether it’s safe to consume. Water contaminants can come in various forms and can have harmful effects on our health. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to research and understand the common water contaminants and how to effectively filter them out.

In this article, I’ll be sharing my findings on the different types of contaminants that can be found in municipal tap water, as well as their sources and potential health effects. Additionally, I’ll be exploring the various water filtration techniques that are available, such as distillation, filtration, chemical disinfection, activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and UV filtration.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to ensure that the water you drink is clean and safe.

Key Takeaways

  • Municipal tap water can contain physical, chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants that pose health risks.
  • Water pollution can come from various sources, including groundwater and surface water pollution, point source and non-point source pollution, and transboundary pollution.
  • Contaminants of concern include primary and secondary contaminants, as well as emerging pollutants like personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and microplastics.
  • Effective water filtration techniques include distillation, filtration, chemical disinfection, whole-home filtration, activated carbon, reverse osmosis, UV filtration, and a combination of filtration techniques to remove radiological contaminants.

Types of Contaminants

I learned that there are different types of contaminants in drinking water, including primary and secondary contaminants, disinfectant contaminants, microbiological contaminants, inorganic and organic chemical contaminants, and emerging pollutants.

Primary contaminants are those that must legally adhere to water quality standards set by the EPA to prevent public exposure to dangerously high levels of specific contaminants. These contaminants include inorganic chemicals like arsenic, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, and nitrates/nitrites, as well as disinfectant contaminants like chlorine and chloramine.

On the other hand, secondary contaminants are less likely to pose health concerns but may still have unwanted effects in high quantities. These contaminants include aluminum, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and sulfur.

Contaminants of emerging concern, which are becoming more common in drinking water, include personal care products, pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and more.

Understanding the different types of contaminants is crucial in choosing the right water filtration system for contaminant removal.

Sources and Health Effects

Groundwater and surface water pollution can be caused by a variety of sources of pollution, including agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and incorrect waste disposal. These sources can lead to exposure to harmful impurities like arsenic, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, and nitrates, which can cause serious health issues including cancer, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and neurological issues.

To ensure that drinking water is safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets legal standards for primary contaminants. These standards must be met to prevent public exposure to dangerously high levels of specific contaminants.

Secondary contaminants, while less likely to pose health concerns, may still have unwanted effects in high quantities. Contaminants of emerging concern, such as personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and microplastics, are also becoming increasingly important to monitor and filter out of drinking water.

It’s important to use effective water filtration techniques, such as distillation, filtration, and chemical disinfection, to remove these contaminants from drinking water and ensure the safety of our water supply.

Water Filtration Techniques

One effective technique for removing physical particles from contaminated water is distillation, filtration, and chemical disinfection. These techniques can remove physical contaminants like sand, dirt, and other debris.

However, for removing chemical contaminants, activated carbon and reverse osmosis are the most effective methods. Activated carbon is particularly effective at removing chlorine, while reverse osmosis can remove particulates like pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, and chloramine.

When it comes to removing microbiological contaminants, UV filtration is the way to go. This technique deactivates bacteria and viruses, making it an effective method for ensuring safe drinking water. However, it’s important to note that biological contaminants are exceptionally small, and even the most effective filters may not be able to remove them entirely.

A combination of filtration techniques may be necessary to ensure that all contaminants are removed from the water.

About the author

James is a dedicated researcher with a profound passion for studying water. Over the years, he has delved deep into understanding the complexities and intricacies of water, both scientifically and environmentally. His relentless pursuit of knowledge in this field has equipped him with insights that he generously shares on this blog