Can your tap water make you sick? 6 Signs that says yes!
Most Americans operated under the false assumption that all tap water in the United States was safe to drink. But can your tap water make you sick? Until the Flint, Michigan disaster, people didn’t think much about their tap water – they trusted that their tap water was safe. While the crisis was an extreme case of water contamination, it was not an isolated incident.
Can your tap water make you sick?
Each year, millions of Americans obtain their drinking water from sources that violate the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards (EPA). According to a study, over 80,000 violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act were reported in 2015, which means over 77 million Americans drank contaminated drinking water!
While professional testing is the most accurate way to determine our drinking water, there are a few ways to screen for contaminants using only our senses.
Rotten Egg Smell: Hydrogen Sulfide
Does your water have an odor similar to rotten eggs? Can your tap water make you sick? If this is the case, your tap water may contain hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide, a colorless gas that occurs naturally in groundwater, may be present in water that smells like sewage or rotten eggs. When certain bacteria come into contact with this gas, it converts to sulfate, which can cause dehydration or diarrhea.
Hydrogen Sulfide is a naturally occurring gas found in groundwater. While your water is usually safe to drink, the smell of rotten eggs may indicate dangerous water contamination.
Should I Drink Cloudy Tap Water?
Water that is safe to drink should ideally be clear and tasteless. One indicator of contaminated water is turbidity or cloudiness. While cloudy water is not always harmful to your health, it may indicate dangerous pathogens or chemicals.
If you fill up your glass with tap water and it appears cloudy at first, it quickly clears, most likely caused by air bubbles in the water. Cloudy water caused by air bubbles is entirely safe to drink.
However, cloudiness in your water can indicate the presence of pathogens or chemicals. Safe-to-drink tap water should not appear cloudy or foamy unless the cloudiness clears quickly.
If your water appears cloudy after running it and does not clear quickly, do not drink it.
Water that looks yellowish
When you turn on your water, and it turns yellow, this could mean various things. Regrettably, the majority of them are not good.
- Yellow coloring in your water could indicate that it contains chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical.
- Orange or brown water may also contain excessive amounts of iron, manganese, or lead
- May indicate the presence of rust, which can breed bacteria.
If your water comes from a public system, check to see if the yellow tint appears only when cold water is running, which may indicate that your utility is simply clearing out its pipes.
If your water smells like bleach, be wary of excess chlorine
If your tap water smells like a swimming pool, it may contain too much chlorine. Can your tap water make you sick? Although it is common for public water treatment facilities to intentionally add traces of chlorine to the water supply to kill germs and pathogens, consuming excessive amounts of chlorine may cause health problems.
A strong bleach smell in your tap water could be a sign of an excess of chlorine in your local system. But even lower chlorine levels in drinking water can also expose people to giardia, a parasite that causes diarrhea, cramps, and nausea.
Another issue is when chlorine reacts with other organic compounds, it can produce a few harmful byproducts. One of these byproducts, a class of trihalomethanes (THMs), has been associated with kidney problems and increased cancer risk.
One of the warning signs to look out for in your tap water is if you have hard water. Some of the warning signs to look for include the following:
- Your hands feel slimy, even after washing them with soap and water.
- Large amounts of soap scum keep showing up on your sinks and tubs.
- The mineral residue is left behind on dishes.
- Soap doesn’t seem to lather.
If you have hard water, it doesn’t mean that your water is contaminated. Sometimes it just means that there is too much calcium or magnesium, which isn’t harmful to your health.
However, hard water could also indicate that you have lead, aluminum, or manganese in your water.
If your tap water has a fishy odor, this may indicate an excess of barium in the water. When barium levels in drinking water exceed the EPA’s recommended levels, it can cause various health problems, including hypertension and damage to the kidneys, heart, and liver.
Cadmium is another chemical that imparts a fishy odor to water and is frequently found in industrial waste. When drinking water contains high levels of cadmium, it can cause liver and bone damage.