Do you know what's in your drinking water? You should! If you receive your drinking water from a well or spring, there is a good chance you may have some type of contamination in your drinking water. Considering the location of your home, in conjunction with surrounding areas, might also give you a good indication of possible contaminants. Monitoring your water's quality is relatively inexpensive. In the event there is a contamination problem most treatments as well are inexpensive.
Although many substances can degrade drinking water, testing for every possible contaminant would be impractical and very costly. Testing for at least four contaminants and a possible fifth will give you a good indication of your drinking waters quality. I also caution you against free testing offered by companies that sell treatment products. While most ware very reputable, some use scare tactic and fear emotion to sell unneeded treatment products. Other than testing for Pesticides, which can range between $100 - $225, the other five tests are relatively inexpensive. These tests are for Total Coliform Bacteria, nitrates, Lead, PH concentrations, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Testing for Pesticides should be done if you live near an area susceptible to pesticide treatment. Total coliform bacteria and nitrates levels can frequently change and testing is therefore, recommended every six months, or as a minimum, annually. PH, TDS, and Pesticides as a minimum should be tested for every three years.
Homeowners themselves can have their water tested by a certified lab, or they may choose the services of a reputable home inspection company, or testing agency, to ensure the samples are properly obtained in accordance with protocols. This will provide the most accurate tests possible.
Potential health hazards of these contaminants are wide-ranging and potentially deadly. Coliform Bacteria presence may give an indication of viruses that can make you sick such as Salmonella and Hepatitis. Nitrate presence in excessive levels may cause a potentially fatal disease in infants called Mehtenoglobinemia, otherwise known as "Blue Baby Syndrome". Pesticides in excessive levels can cause birth defects and increase the risk of cancer.
As you can see, the dangers are high, but the costs for monitoring and potentially treating for, are low. Solutions for rectifying a problem can be as simple as bleaching a well referred to as "disinfecting or shocking", a cost of less than $5. So, if you receive your water from a well or spring, consider having it tested is extremely important in order to ensure safe drinking water for your family.