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5 Most Common Contaminants in Florida’s Water Sources

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Access to clean and safe drinking water is essential for human health and well-being. In Florida, however, water contamination issues have become increasingly prevalent, leaving many residents concerned about the quality and safety of their drinking water.

From lead to PFAS, there are a variety of contaminants that can pose a risk to human health. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the five most common contaminants found in Florida’s water sources and explore effective treatment options.

Common Contaminants

Lead

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Lead is a toxic metal that can cause severe health problems, particularly in children. It is commonly found in older homes that have lead pipes, lead-based solder, or brass faucets that contain lead.

Lead contamination can also occur in areas with corrosive water or if the water supply is improperly treated. High levels of lead in the body can lead to developmental problems, learning disabilities, and other health concerns.

Iron

Iron is a naturally occurring element found in Florida’s water sources, particularly in groundwater and surface water. Although it is not a health hazard, it can cause discoloration of water and stains on clothing and fixtures. High levels of iron in the water can make it less palatable and can impact the taste of food and beverages made with the water.

Nitrates

Nitrates are a common contaminant in Florida’s water sources, particularly in rural areas where agriculture is prevalent. Nitrates come from fertilizer, animal waste, and septic systems. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause methemoglobinemia, also known as “blue baby” syndrome, in infants. This is a serious condition that can reduce the amount of oxygen carried in the bloodstream, leading to health concerns.

Coliform Bacteria

Coliform bacteria are a type of bacteria found in human and animal feces. The presence of coliform bacteria in drinking water can indicate that disease-causing organisms may also be present. Boiling water or using ultraviolet (UV) light can kill coliform bacteria, while point-of-use filters can remove them from drinking water. 

PFAS

Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been found in Florida’s water sources. These chemicals have been linked to various health problems, including cancer and thyroid disease. PFAS have been used in a variety of products, including non-stick cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foam.

 Effective Treatment Options

To address these contaminants, a variety of treatment options are available. These include:

Point-of-use filters

These filters use activated carbon or reverse osmosis to remove contaminants such as lead and coliform bacteria from drinking water. They can provide an additional layer of protection for those at risk of exposure to these contaminants.

Reverse osmosis or distillation systems

These systems are effective in removing nitrates and other contaminants from drinking water through a process of evaporation and condensation.

UV light

Boiling water or using ultraviolet (UV) light can kill coliform bacteria and other microorganisms.

Iron filtration systems

Iron filtration systems are particularly effective in addressing excess iron in the water, a common issue in Florida’s water sources. They work by removing excess iron from the water through a process called oxidation. During this process, the iron in the water is converted to a solid particle, which is then filtered out of the water.

GAC filters:

Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters are effective in removing PFAS from water. These filters work by adsorbing the contaminants onto the surface of the carbon. GAC filters are a popular choice for treating PFAS contamination, as they are effective and relatively affordable.

It is worth noting that while GAC filters are effective at removing PFAS, they require frequent replacement to maintain their effectiveness. The spent filters also need to be disposed of properly to avoid releasing the contaminants back into the environment.

Clean and safe drinking water is crucial for human health and well-being. Unfortunately, many areas in Florida are facing water contamination issues, including lead, iron, nitrates, coliform bacteria, and PFAS.

To address these contaminants, a variety of treatment options are available, including point-of-use filters, reverse osmosis or distillation systems, UV light, and GAC filters.

It is recommended that homeowners have their water tested by a certified laboratory to identify potential contaminants and determine the appropriate treatment method. Proper maintenance and replacement of filtration systems are also important to ensure the effectiveness of water treatment methods.

As individuals, we can also take steps to reduce our contribution to water contamination. Proper disposal of hazardous materials and reducing the use of harmful chemicals can go a long way in protecting our water sources.