Pollutants in Water
Coliform bacteria is the most common water test done to determine the safety of private wells and springs. But what exactly are these bacteria and how can they be treated in private water systems? This article provides an introduction to the measurement, prevention, and treatment of coliform bacteria in drinking water.
You may be concerned about nitrates in drinking water after reading articles in your local newspaper on “blue-baby syndrome” (methemoglobinemia). Or perhaps you’ve just had your water tested and you want to know what the numbers mean.
Find answers to common questions about lead in drinking water, learn how to determine if your drinking water contains too much lead, and discover ways to reduce lead in your water.
Corrosive water is a term used to describe “aggressive” water that can dissolve materials with which it comes in contact. While aggressive water is usually not dangerous to consume by itself, it can cause serious drinking water quality problems by dissolving metals from plumbing systems.
Giardia is a small protozoan that produces cysts which, when consumed in drinking water, can cause severe gastrointestinal illness. This fact sheet describes proper treatment methods to remove Giardia cysts from drinking water.
Arsenic occurs in groundwater in Pennsylvania from both natural sources and man's activities. It is present naturally in certain rock types that are especially common in the western United States but also occur sporadically in parts of Pennsylvania.
Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas. Generally considered airborne, it is also found in water supplies. Radon in water usually originates in water wells that are drilled into bedrock containing radon gas. Included are some methods to reduce that source radon in your home.
Methane gas is the main component in natural gas. It occurs naturally in some shallow rock layers that are penetrated by water wells. Methane can be dissolved in the groundwater in private water wells at various concentrations as a natural condition.
Bottled water has become an increasing popular source of drinking water in Pennsylvania. Surveys have indicated that consumers are turning to bottled water as a healthy alternative to soft drinks or because they are concerned about the safety or taste of their drinking water.
Iron and manganese are metals that occur frequently in private water systems in Pennsylvania. In some parts of the state these metals exist naturally in groundwater that originates from certain types of rock.
This article explains the issue of pharmaceuticals in water and how to properly dispose of these products to prevent water quality contamination.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gas that gives water a distinctive “rotten egg” odor. It occurs naturally in groundwater as a consequence of the activities of sulfur reducing bacteria.
Humans use a large variety of chemicals in their everyday lives, including over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and personal care products, which become part of the wastewater stream. Wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove these chemicals, and therefore these products and their metabolites persist in the effluent. These chemicals are then introduced into the environment during combined sewer overflow events, wastewater effluent irrigation, and land-application of biosolids. Many of these chemicals are known or suspected endocrine disruptors and cause adverse impacts to aquatic organisms at trace concentrations (μg - ng/L level). There are currently no surface or drinking water standards for these chemicals, and therefore the best way to reduce their presence in the environment is to reduce their use. The goal of this research project was to develop a calculator that the general public can use to estimate their footprint of endocrine-disrupting compounds. This calculator is similar to existing water and carbon footprint calculators. Users answer questions about the household products they use in three categories: health and beauty, laundry, and cleaning, and the calculator outputs an estimate of the user’s endocrine-disrupting compounds footprint. This footprint calculator will educate users about their consumption of EDC-containing products and help them to identify ways to reduce their footprint. The calculator was developed entirely by undergraduate students as part of Summer Undergradaute Research programs at Penn State.