8 signs your tap water might be dangerous to drink
- Our senses are valuable tool when looking for contaminants in drinking water.
- Water that's safe to drink should ideally be clear with no odor or funny taste.
- If your tap water tastes metallic, smells fishy, or comes out cloudy, it could signal the presence of unsafe contaminants.
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When residents of Flint, Michigan, turned on their taps back in 2014, they encountered an unpleasant brown sludge that tasted like metal. The discolored liquid was an early sign that something was amiss with the city's water supply, which had recently been switched from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.
The new water source had corroded the city's aging pipes, allowing toxic levels of lead to seep into residents' drinking water. What followed was one of the worst health disasters in US history, wherein around 10,000 residents were effectively poisoned in their own homes.
The crisis, though an extreme example of water contamination, wasn't a one-off occurrence. Every year, millions of Americans get their drinking water from a source that violates the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The best way to tell exactly what's in our water is to have it professionally tested, but there are a few ways to screen for contaminants using our senses.
Here are some signs that your tap water might not be safe to drink.
A good rule of thumb is to check for cloudiness.
Also check to see if your hands feel slimy after washing them with soap and water.
Yellow, orange, or brown water is never a good sign.
Water tinged with green or blue could contain elevated levels of copper.
If your water smells like bleach, be wary of excess chlorine.
The smell of rotten eggs means your water could contain hydrogen sulfide.
If water smells fishy, it could be a sign of barium or cadmium.
A metallic taste could signal the presence of excess iron or copper.
Other contaminants are invisible.
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