It’s bad enough to be able to see, smell, or taste a contaminant. But what if your water looks, smells, and tastes just fine — is it? Not necessarily. 

Microbial and organic contaminants cannot always be detected by human senses. You might go years before realizing a problem exists. Many folks never become suspicious until people in the community start to get sick. Water near agricultural areas may contain harmful organic material from pesticide or fertilizer application. Chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers in water may increase cancer risk and reproductive problems, and can impair eye, liver, kidney, and other body functions. Similar problems can result from exposure to water near industrial plants.

Even if you cannot see, taste or smell the contaminants, there are resources available to help you detect and treat the issues. 

The U.S. EPA has set standards for more than 80 contaminants that may occur in drinking water and pose a risk to human health. 

In drinking water, microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, are the contaminants with the greatest chance of reaching levels high enough to cause acute health effects. 

The drinking water contaminants that can have chronic effects include chemicals (such as disinfection byproducts, solvents and pesticides), radionuclides (such as radium), and minerals (such as arsenic). Examples of these chronic effects include cancer, liver or kidney problems, or reproductive difficulties.

Common Waterborne Contaminants Removed with Filtered Water

 Acidity (pH)

  • Corrosion of pipes & fixtures
  • Pin hole leaks in pipes
  • Green soap curd
  • Blue-green Stains/pitting on Fixtures
  • Appliance failure
  • Discoloration of hair

Bacteria, Cysts & Viruses

  • Gastrointestinal illness with flu-like symptoms
  • Ingestion from drinking and cooking water
  • Inhalation during bathing & cleaning


  • Eye/nose irritation
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Anemia
  • Skin/Hair dryness
  • Fades clothing
  • Breaks down rubber seals in appliances and plumbing
  • Inhalation during bathing & cleaning

Cloudy Water/Turbidity

  • Murky or grey color
  • Clogs/damages appliances & fixtures
  • Presence of microscopic clay particles
  • Possible presence of bacterial or microbiological contaminant


Organic:  Herbicides, Pharmaceuticals

Inorganic:  Metals

Microorganisms:  Bacteria, Virus, Cysts

Radionuclides: Radioactive compounds

Disinfectants/Disinfectant Byproducts

  • Tasteless, odorless
  • Absorb through skin
  • Ingest from drinking water
  • Inhale during bathing and cleaning


Proper levels are important to the development of children’s teeth, especially under the age of 5.

Excess amounts can cause:
  • Streaking/Spottiness on teeth
  • Bone disease

Hard Water

  • White residue/spots
  • Appliance failure
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Etched glassware
  • Poor sudsing of soap
  • Dull/dingy laundry
  • Plugs screens on faucets and appliances

Heavy Metals

Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Selenium…

  • Odorless & Tasteless
  • Skin damage
  • Circulatory Issues
  • Effect mental & neurological development
  • Increased Cancer risk

Iron (Rust) & Manganese

  • Black/beige or orange stains
  • Ring in toilet bowl at the water line
  • Rusty/cloudy water (Ferric iron)
  • Rust stains in laundry
  • Clogs pipes, spray jets and screens

Iron Bacteria:

  • Smell
  • Pinkish slime


  • Odorless, colorless, tasteless
  • Radioactive
  • Ingested through air, bathing, cooking, drinking water
  • Increased risk of lung cancer

Sediment, Sand, Silt

  • Plugs screens and faucets
  • Damages appliances and washing machines


  • Blue-Green:  low pH
  • Black:  Iron Bacteria, Manganese
  • Pink:  Iron Bacteria
  • Orange:  Iron
  • Yellow:  Tannins

Sulfur/Hydrogen Sulfide Gas

  • Rotten egg smell
  • Intermittent odor, worsens after periods of low use
  • Accelerates corrosion of metal
  • Occurs with both hot & cold water
  • Can be flammable


  • Colors water yellow/brown
  • Yellow stains in toilet
  • Yellow stains on laundry
  • Can cause water to taste bitter

Tastes & Odors

  • Metallic from iron, copper, manganese or zinc
  • Earthy/Musty from decaying matter
  • Rotten egg from hydrogen sulfide
  • Chlorine


  • Radioactive
  • Absorbed through skin
  • Effects the kidneys
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