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Also great for city water testing, our Well Water Test Kit was specifically designed to help you quickly and easily test for the 10 most common water quality concerns in water including: iron, copper, lead, bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH and hardness.
Our simple, affordable Water Test Kit tests for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH and hardness – 8 of the most common and potentially hazardous water quality concerns. Results available in 15 minutes (bacteria 48 hours).
Worried about lead pipes contaminating your home’s drinking water? This affordable, simple test delivers a positive or negative result in just ten minutes.
Increasing pollution and our ever changing environment constantly affect the quality of our drinking water. Our water test kits offer a range of different tests giving you a very clear overview of the potential contaminants in your home’s drinking water.
If your home water comes from a private well, your family suffers from gastrointestinal illness, the water from your taps is smelly, frothy, cloudy or tastes bad or your area suffers from hard water, we recommend you test your water regularly.
Our Water Test Kits are made by US company Silver Lake Research which continues to advance the state of the art in test kit development through collaborations with commercial partners and government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defence.
Alkalinity is normally due to the bicarbonate salts of calcium and magnesium, and very occasionally sodium bicarbonate may contribute.
Aluminium is probably the least toxic of all the metals. It is widely used in industry for cans, foils, modern aircraft etc. In some water sources, aluminium occurs naturally. It can be removed from drinking water by water treatment.
It is not clear how aluminium interferes with activities in the human body. Acute aluminium poisoning has been associated with constipation, colicky pain, anorexia, nausea and gastrointestinal irritation, skin problems, and lack of energy. Slower and longer-term increases in body aluminium may create muscle twitching, numbness, paralysis, and fatty degeneration of the liver and kidney.
The UK maximum contaminant level for Aluminium in tap water set by DWI/DEFRA is 200µg/l.
Low levels may occur naturally in water after it has passed through various mineral deposits and rock strata. Arsenic is present in small amounts in soil and therefore is present in our food. It is also in the ocean, which transfers to seafood, especially the filtering mollusks, such as clams and oysters. Some arsenic may be present as a contaminant in meats as well.
Arsenic is also found in many fuel oils and coal, and hence it is added to the environment when these are burned. Weed killers and some insecticides (particularly lead-arsenate sprays) are the main sources of arsenic contamination. This is responsible for a twentyfold increase in the level of arsenic found in humans.
The UK maximum contaminant level for Arsenic in tap water set by DWI/DEFRA is 10µg/l.
The toxic effects of arsenic contamination can be poisonous, ingestion of arsenic can be dangerous and lead to illness and in some cases can be fatal. The possible effects of arsenic toxicity include hair loss, dermatitis, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headaches, confusion, muscle pains, red and white blood cell problems, neurological symptoms and liver and kidney damage. Acute arsenic exposure may cause a rapid series of symptoms. Arsine gas exposure is very toxic to the lungs and kidneys and is often fatal. Death from low-level, chronic arsenic exposure has the appearance of death from natural causes.
Bacterial contamination can not be detected by taste, smell or sight. Floods, human or animal waste, or insects, rodents or animals entering a well can be a cause for bacteria. Public water supplies should be regularly tested, but for private water supplies, like wells or springs, there are no such requirements.
Illnesses caused by E.coli bacteria and other potentially harmful bacteria occur every year. Many strains of bacteria are not toxic but even mild cases can cause minor illnesses like diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Bacterial infections can be potentially dangerous or fatal especially in people with weaker immune systems like children or the elderly.
The presence of bacteria indicates that treatment systems are not working properly.
Although its health risks are comparatively small, chlorine has a strong taste and smell. Chlorine in large amounts causes corrosion of metals and hence reduces the working function of common household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. Chlorine in water may be present in two forms, free and combined. Free chlorine does the hard work of killing bacteria and oxidising contaminants. When you add chlorine to water, you are actually adding free chlorine. When the free chlorine combines with other contaminants, it becomes combined chlorine, or chloramines. In water, this form of chlorine has very little sanitising ability and no oxidising ability. Total chlorine is the sum of both – combined chlorine and free chlorine. Levels of chlorine should be kept as low as possible whilst ensuring the quality of the water.
Health Effects – Chlorine can react with organic matter in the water, such as vegetation decay, and disinfection byproducts called Trihalomethanes (THM’s). THM’s are suspected human carcinogens. Chlorine may also create objectionable taste and odour problems in water. Chlorine can be irritating to the skin upon contact as well as an eye, nose and lung irritant when exposure to the air is encountered. Ingestion of Chlorine can cause stomach discomfort.
Copper is an essential nutrient for good health when ingested in very small quantities and is a naturally occurring element found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements. Copper is also used extensively in household plumbing. Copper can be found in drinking water from contamination from mining operations or municipal incineration deposits leaching into groundwater. Corrosion in household copper plumbing from acidic water is another source of excess copper levels in drinking water.
Short term exposure above the recommended levels can cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting. Long term exposure can cause liver or kidney damage. Excessive levels of copper can cause blue/green staining of plumbing fixtures and a metallic taste.
E.Coli stands for Escherichia Coliform bacteria which normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Most strains of this bacteria are harmless, but one particular strain called O157 can cause severe kidney damage and diarrhea and in some cases renal failure and death. Infection by the O157 strain are regarded as the most dangerous causes of food poisoning in the UK.
Because E.coli are always present in human and animal faeces in high numbers, they are used as an indicator of faecal pollution in drinking water. When Ecoli are detected this does not mean that O157 is present but it requires immediate action. All Ecoli bacteria can be rapidly inactivated by chlorine and other disinfectants used in the treatment of water supplies. Outbreaks of illnesses are mostly related to poor maintenance of these disinfection systems or private water supplies which are not disinfected.
A bacteria drinking water test kit can detect high levels of such bacteria in the water.
A flammable and corrosive gas present in some waters that produces an easily detected offensive “rotten egg” smell to water. It is produced by decaying organic matter, petroleum refining and from sulphate reducing bacteria (bacteria that can convert sulphates and sulphur to sulphide). Hydrogen sulphide is also a weak acid and can also promote corrosion in plumbing lines. More common to well waters than to treated municipal water supplies.
Excess hydrogen sulphide can cause an objectionable smell to water and be corrosive to plumbing lines. Odour can be detected in water with a level of 0.5 milligrams per litre (mg/L) by most people. A “swampy” or “musty” odour can be detected below 1.0 milligrams per litre (mg/L). Concentration of hydrogen sulphide over 1.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) will give water a “rotten egg” smell and makes water corrosive to plumbing.
Considered one of the “Troublesome Trio” (along with Manganese and Hydrogen Sulphide) because of the complexity in removing this excess contaminant. More common in private wells than municipal water supplies. Iron can be present in four different forms in water. Ferrous Iron is colourless and is the result of changing the insoluble element Iron to a soluble form in acidic and low oxygen environments. Ferric Iron is the result of exposure to air to form insoluble Iron (rust) and red-brown staining of plumbing fixtures and laundry. Organic Iron or Iron Bacteria occurs when specific microorganisms utilise Ferrous Iron and air to produce a gelatinous compound. Colloidal Iron is observed as suspended matter causing red-pink discoloration to water. Iron is a non-mandatory secondary water quality standard and guidelines are provided to assist in managing drinking water for such considerations as taste, colour and odour as well as for corrosion control.
Aesthetic Effects – Excessive Iron will create a rusty color with reddish or orange staining of plumbing fixtures. A metallic taste may also be present with excess Iron. If Iron Bacteria is present, gelatinous sludge may be present on plumbing fixtures or cause pipe encrustation.
Drinking water is only one possible source of lead contamination but it is one of the easiest to tackle. Lead in drinking water is mostly caused by lead pipes especially in houses built prior to the 1930s. If your water is soft or corrosive, this type of water can accelerate the leaching of lead and copper and other metals from your household plumbing and water fixtures. The lead concentration is normally higher when the water is softer, ie. has a lower pH. Lead can be harmful to your health, but just how harmful depends on the amount of lead which has entered your body and where the lead is stored in your body. Until the 20th century, it wasn’t known how dangerous even a small amount of lead can be to humans.
When lead enters the body it can cause damage to the central nervous system as well as cause developmental harm especially in children and infants, neurological and kidney damage. Once lead has entered the body it is released very slowly, which means ongoing exposure will cause a build up of lead in the body.
The amount of lead in water caused by lead piping is greater when the water has been sitting in the pipe for a while, ie. in the first water of the morning. It is therefore important to let the water run to flush the pipe before using it. Because lead levels in the water can vary throughout the day, it is recommended to test your drinking water more than once – ideally throughout one day whenever you use your water for consumption.
When animal and human wastes or soil fertilisers come into contact with water, they show up as nitrates and nitrites. There has been a 20 fold increase of the use of nitrogen fertilisers in the UK over the past 40 years. These fertilisers are very easily washed off the land into streams and rivers and can eventually end up in drinking water supplies. Only specialised water treatment processes can reduce the amount of nitrate in drinking water. Nitrates and nitrites are especially harmful tor the development of babies and young children and can be a cause of the potentially fatal Blue Baby Syndrome. Since levels of nitrates in waters are being controlled carefully, instances of this illness have reduced massively in the UK.
Nitrates are thought to be associated with cancer because the resulting nitrite can react with amino acids in our body to form nitrosamines which are thought to be initiators of cancerous growths. Although (to our knowledge) some studies haven’t found a definite positive link yet.
Some experts recommend testing drinking water for nitrates if a baby is expected, during the early months of a pregnancy, before bringing an infant home, and again during the first 6 months of the baby’s life.
Pesticides are used to eliminate weeds, insects and other harmful elements in crops. An increased use of pesticides in agriculture means that these toxic substances sometimes leak into the soil, rivers, lakes and groundwater which is used for our drinking water. Public water supplies are encouraged to test water for pesticides but this is not always the case.
Hard water is generally not seen as a health risk, but it is a nuisance because
Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, most commonly calcium and magnesium.
Different sources classify the affect of hard water in slightly different ways, but here is a general guide that we have found to be quite accurate:
Hardness greater than 80PPM: Detergents with softening agents are not completely effective in cleaning
Hardness greater than 120PPM: Some scaling will occur in pipes and appliances
Hardness greater than 250PPM: Dishwasher invariably produces a film on dishes
Sulphates are naturally found in most waters and the amount will vary depending on geographic area. It is a colourless and odourless compound of sulphur and oxygen and exists as a dissolved salt in water. High sulphate generally means you are likely to have hard water because of sulphate’s ability to combine with calcium and magnesium. High sulphates will usually also correspond to high sodium levels and high acidity in your water. Low to moderate concentrations of sulphate may actually make water more palatable and desirable to drink. Sulphates contribute to the total mineral content of water.
High levels of sulphates will produce a medicinal taste and can cause a laxative effect on the digestive system if you are not accustomed to drinking water with high sulphates. Health concerns regarding sulphate in water have been raised because of particular concern for groups who may be at greater risk from the laxative effects.
In small amounts, chloride is found in most natural waters and the concentration depends on the mineral content of the earth through which the water flows. Naturally occurring high levels of chloride generally means you will be likely to have hard water because of chloride’s ability to combine with calcium and magnesium. Low to moderate concentrations of chloride may actually make water more palatable and desirable to drink. Chlorides contribute to the total mineral content of water.
Chloride will produce a salty taste in water and in high concentrations, it will produce a brackish or briny taste which is undesirable.
Too many people are drinking tap water which contains higher than permitted levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
The public must be made aware of the fact that their water supplies exceed the permitted chemical contamination because consumers have the right to know what dangers they are exposed to.
The Irish EPA figures for 2009 show that 16pc of public water supplies now fail the safety limits set by the WHO for THMs (trihalomethanes).
According to a 1998 report by the Environmental Protection Agency, levels of THMs in Irish drinking water occasionally rise up to five times higher than the recommended safety levels in a number of regions, including north Donegal, Connemara and Drogheda. The reason for this is that colour levels in river water sources can rise dramatically, especially in times of flooding, providing greater quantities of raw material for chlorine to react with. In Dublin and other highly populated areas, water is dosed with aluminium, which removes the colour from it and thereby reduces the production of THMs.
The presence of THMs has been shown to be very high in some parts of the country and this is clearly not acceptable.
It is known that THMs are carcinogens and therefore pose a potential risk to consumers drinking water which contains them in excess. There is a chronic shortage of data in this area and the real problem is that we do not know the on-going level of exposure to THMs because not enough sampling is being done. No-one knows what the long-term effects of chlorinated water will be, but if all of this new research is anything to go by, we have a serious problem on our hands.
Almost half of all water produced by local authorities goes missing and never makes it to the tap.
Despite investment of almost €500m a year in new pipes and treatment plants, much of the water is seeping into the ground because of leaks in the system.
A major report into services provided by local authorities shows 44.5% of all water produced is “unaccounted for” because of leaks, unauthorised usage and metering errors.
Forty-two public water supplies tested in the latest Environmental Protection Agency inspections had lead levels that exceeded safety thresholds that came into effect in December 2013.
Putting an exact figure on the number of households affected by lead-contaminated water from lead pipes is difficult but a conservative estimate based on a housing stock of 1.5 million would put around 32,000 at risk.
Children living in areas where tap water is chlorinated have a 14% higher chance of having birth defects than those in non-chlorinated regions. The risk of urinary tract abnormalities was shown to double.
In Ireland, the country with the second highest levels of spina bifida in the world, chlorine is added to approximately 90% of the national water supply, excluded only from some private group water schemes and dwellings with their own wells. The most widespread disinfectant of water in the world, it was first introduced here in the early part of the last century as a powerful weapon against a host of waterborne pathogens such as salmonella, E-coli and viral diseases like polio and hepatitis.