For most residents, tap water supplied to Jacksonville area comes from the Floridian aquifer, a generally healthy source of fresh water. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t harmful contaminants found in it, some of which, if uncontrolled, can be cause for alarm. Here are some of the more common elements found in our water, compiled from various sources in and around the Jacksonville area.
Coliform Bacteria / E. coli
Coliforms are bacteria present in the digestive tracts of animals, including humans. Most are generally harmless, though some strains of E. coli can cause serious illness, even death. E. coli, which comes from human and animal fecal waste, can be occasionally be found in trace amounts in the Jacksonville water supply today. Other types of coliforms have been known to cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and headaches in otherwise-healthy people. (Note: Coliforms can be more serious and even life-threatening for children, the elderly, and immune-compromised people.) Unfortunately, you cannot tell by the look, taste, or smell of the water if disease-causing organisms are in it, however you can get it tested (such as what we offer at Kenai Water Jacksonville, with our free water quality analysis.
Copper / Lead
Copper can get into your drinking water as it passes through your household plumbing system. Your body needs some copper to stay healthy, but too much can be harmful. Ingesting an excess amount of copper in food or water can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, liver damage, and kidney disease. Also, it’s dangerous for individuals with Wilson’s disease (a rare inherited disorder), as well as some babies may not able to get rid of extra copper easily. Drinking water with more than 1,300 micrograms of copper per liter can be a health risk.
As you might recall from the recent issues in Flint, Michigan, exposure to lead is especially toxic to children and can cause serious and in many cases, irreversible damage to developing brains and nervous systems. Lead exposure has also been linked to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, fertility issues, cardiovascular and kidney effects, cognitive dysfunction, and high-blood pressure in otherwise healthy adults. Learn more about our Water Filtration System, which can remove lead from your home water supply. [t1]
Disinfectants / Disinfectant By-Products
These days, many people know that common disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine are used to treat water to eliminate water-borne transmission of diseases such as typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, cholera, salmonellosis, and shigellosis. Indeed, chlorination and chloramination are still the most widely used method for disinfecting water supplies in the United States. In the Jacksonville area, chlorine is the primary disinfectant being used. The EPA generally recommends that levels up to 4 milligrams per liter are generally considered safe in drinking water.
Disinfectant by-products are created as chlorine reacts with water. Common by-products include:
- TTHM (Total Trihalomethanes)
Overexposure to such contaminants has been linked to cancer and may be also be related to reproductive impacts such as miscarriages and birth defects. TTHM, for instance, is known to have also caused other effects in experimental laboratory animals following high levels of exposure, including toxicity to the liver, kidneys, neurological and reproductive systems.
Other Inorganic Contaminants (Fluoride, Mercury, and Nitrates)
Inorganic contaminants such commonly occur in nature and often end up in our surface and ground waters. Others are a result of manmade pollution, while still more such as nitrates occur because of interactions between nature and pollution. Here are a few that have been found in water in and around Jacksonville:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, many research studies have proven the safety and benefits of fluoridated water, including better dental health. Drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities (also called tooth decay) by about 25% in children and adults. By preventing cavities, community water fluoridation has been shown to save money both for families and for the US health care system. There are some risks to ingesting too much fluoride, though, in general it is not considered too harmful except in extreme cases.
Mercury occurs naturally in deposits throughout the world, and is the only known metal to be in a liquid state at standard conditions for pressure and temperature. It’s also very toxic. Mercury has been detected in Jacksonville water and likely comes from the erosion of natural deposits, discharge from refineries and factories, and runoff from landfills and cropland. Repeated mercury in water may cause neurological and behavioral disorders, and even death.
Nitrates are compounds formed naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen. Nitrates naturally occur in most surface water or groundwater, and it’s important to note that nitrogen is essential for all living things. But, high levels of nitrates in your drinking water can be dangerous to health, especially for infants and pregnant women. For example, exposure can lead to blue baby syndrome in infants, developmental effects, and cardiovascular disease. In extreme cases, blue baby syndrome can be severe and lead to death. Nitrates may be successfully removed from water using treatment processes such as ion exchange, distillation, and reverse osmosis.
We hope you found this helpful. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of contaminants, but just a few of the more notable ones. Want to learn more? Contact us at Kenai Water Jacksonville to get your free water quality analysis, and find out more about what’s in your water!