What might be in my tap water?
Just a glass of water...
...or is it?
You may not be aware but your humble glass of tap water may contain rather more than just
pure H2O. So what can be found within?
You might have noticed that your tap water can sometimes have a strange taste or odour. This
is down to chlorine, used in the water treatment process in order to remove any harmful bacteria
and germs before the water enters your home. Whilst there are minimal health risks associated
with chlorine, it can certainly have an impact on how pleasant your water is to drink.
Viruses and bacteria
Despite it being the law that your mains water must be routinely tested by your supplier, very
occasionally there can be outbreaks of microscopic parasites. When this has occurred in the
past, residents have been required to boil their tap water before drinking to avoid any gastric
As well as being naturally present in most mains water, in some areas Fluoride is added to the
water supply. Although it has been medically proven to reduce tooth decay in children, there
have been studies that found that high levels of fluoride can in fact lead to damage and
discolouration of teeth and bones. As a result, there have been no programs to add fluoride to
mains water approved in the UK for the last 20 years.
The use of plastics in modern manufacturing and products such as car tyres, paint, fabrics and
cosmetics can have an impact on your tap water. Microfibres and microbeads have been found
in 72% of tap water samples in Europe and the UK. Whilst the health risks of ingesting these
microplastics are currently unknown, it doesn’t sound like something that we would prefer to be
doing if we can help it!
Lead can be extremely detrimental to your health if it is allowed to build up in your vital organs.
Unfortunately lead can find its way into your bloodstream if you drink tap water which has
absorbed it from old lead piping en route to your home. Lead pipes have been banned from
being used in UK plumbing for over 25 years but older properties may still have these in place.
Although there is no evidence that there will be an effect on male fertility rates, it is still a
concern that forms of the female sex hormone oestrogen found in the contraceptive pill may be
finding their way into drinking water supplies.
Whilst only at extremely low levels that are unlikely to cause any health risks, UK tap water has
been found to contain tiny concentrations of a variety of drugs such as caffeine, painkillers and
Volatile Organic Compounds
These are chemicals that can be found dissolved in water as well as in the air we breathe. We
are generally surrounded by these at all times as they are used in a variety of industries,
transport and agriculture as well as our day to day lives. An example of a volatile organic
compound is a pesticide called Metaldehyde which has been found in water supplies in the past.
Whilst the conclusion of tests undertaken at the time was that there was no risk to health, it was
found that some water supplies contained above regulation levels.
Hard water contains high concentrations of the minerals magnesium and calcium. They sound
harmless enough but when heated combine to form limescale, the hard to remove chalky
buildup which you can find on taps, pipes and heating elements which you can find around your
home and within your appliances.
Slice of lemon
Well...it’s often found in our glass of water anyway!
A perfect compliment to enhance the delicious taste of water filtered through a Reverse
Reverse Osmosis is a simple water filtration process which works by using pressure to force
water through a semipermeable membrane in order to remove any impurities, including all of
those mentioned above (apart from the lemon, of course!). The contaminants which are filtered
out are flushed away and you are left with clean, great tasting drinking water. Speak to your
local AIWSE member today to find out more about having a Reverse Osmosis filtration system
installed in your home and get on your way to enjoying that perfect glass of water.