Nitrate (NO3): is a naturally occurring chemical made of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrate is found in air, soil, water, and plants. Much of the nitrate in our environment comes from decomposition of plants and animal wastes. People also add nitrate to the environment in the form of fertilizers. Natural levels of nitrate groundwater are usually quite low. Elevated nitrate levels in groundwater are often caused by run-off from barnyards or feedlots, excessive use of fertilizers, or septic systems. High levels of nitrate in drinking water pose a risk to infants. They can develop a condition called “blue baby syndrome”.
Arsenic: is a semi-metal element. It is odorless and tasteless. Because it occurs naturally in the environment and as a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities Arsenic can enter drinking water through the ground or as runoff into surface water sources. Health effects might include thickening and discoloration of the skin, nausea, diarrhea; numbness in hands and feet; partial paralysis; and blindness. Arsenic has been linked certain types of cancer: bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/arsenic.html.
Coliform Bacteria: Are a large group of bacteria that occur throughout the environment. They are used as “indicator organisms” in other words; if coliform bacteria are present in the water supply, other disease causing microorganism may be also present. Sources of contamination can include faulty septic systems, surface run-off, and faulty or not well maintained household plumbing. Consuming contaminated water may cause gastrointestinal illness, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/bacteria.html.
Fecal Coliform Bacteria: Are a small group within the coliform bacteria group. Fecal coliform bacteria are specific to the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, and their presence is more indicative of sewage and animals waste contamination.
E. coli: Is the type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and human. A positive test result is strongly indicative of animal and human waste contamination. Although some strains of E. coli are harmless, a few of them can cause severe illness.
Lead: Lead exists throughout our physical environment. We are exposed to very small amounts each day, usually with no ill health effects. However, the pipes and other components (such as faucets, valves, or fittings) in the household plumbing may contain lead. If they do, lead may dissolve into the water. The longer the water stands idle in the plumbing pipes and components, the more lead that can dissolve into the water. The simplest method to reduce lead exposure from drinking water is to turn on the cold water tap each morning, and let it run for a minute or two, until the water gets cold. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the body. Young children, infants, and unborn babies are particularly at risk of lead poisoning. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/lead.html.
Iron: Is one of the most common minerals in the earth’s crust. Rainwater, as it infiltrates the soil and underlying geologic formations dissolves iron, causing it to seep into aquifers that serve as sources of groundwater for wells. Iron is mainly present in water in two forms: water containing ferrous iron is clear and colorless, but when exposed to air in the pressure tank or atmosphere, the water turns cloudy and a reddish brown substance begins to form. This sediment is the oxidized or ferric form of iron that will not dissolve in water. Iron is not hazardous to health, but it is considered a secondary or aesthetic contaminant. As little as 0.3 mg/l of iron can cause water to turn a reddish brown color. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/iron.html.
Iron bacteria: are small living organisms which naturally occur in soil, shallow groundwater, and surface waters. These nuisance bacteria combine iron (or manganese) and oxygen to form deposits of “rust,” bacterial cells, and a slimy material that sticks the bacteria to well pipes, pumps, and plumbing fixtures. The bacteria are not known to cause disease, but can cause undesirable stains, tastes and odors; affect the amount of water the well will produce; and create conditions where other undesirable organisms may grow. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/ironbacteria.html.
Fluoride: If children or adolescents are drinking the well water, a test for natural levels of fluoride will give your dentist valuable information when considering fluoride supplements.
Alkalinity: is a measure of the presence of bicarbonate, carbonate or hydroxide constituents. A minimum level of alkalinity is desirable because it considered a “buffer” that prevents large variations in pH. The recommended range for drinking water is 30-450 ppm. Alkalinity is not detrimental for humans. High alkalinity is usually associated with high pH, hardness and total dissolved solids (TDS); and may cause scale formation in the plumbing system. Water with low alkalinity may be corrosive for metallic fittings.
Chloride: Chloride in groundwater can be naturally occurring in deep aquifers or caused by pollution from sea water, brine, or industrial or domestic wastes. A noticeable increase in chloride levels may indicate contamination with sewage.
pH: a measure of the acid or alkaline content of the water. The pH normally ranges from 5.5-9.0. At pH < 7.0 pipes corrosion may occur releasing metals to the water.