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Drinking Water Testing in Bay Area, California

State of the drinking water quality – A primer

Do we get “pure” water in our tap water faucet? Unfortunately, answer is no. Pure water is a theoretical concept, it means water that has nothing in it except H2O (hydrogen and oxygen). Absolutely pure water doesn't exist in nature. Water, known as the "universal solvent," always contains traces of substances with which it has been in contact. These may include gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen from the air, minerals such as calcium and silica from rocks, and organic matter such as weak organic acid from soil and vegetation. This is not detrimental. Most of these naturally occurring substances are harmless and in some cases, beneficial. Most people think the taste of water is improved by moderately low concentrations of naturally occurring minerals, such as calcium carbonate. In the laboratory, with processes such as distillation, reverse osmosis, and de-ionization, we can remove almost all of these natural impurities from water and make it almost pure. Most people believe such water has little taste. When it comes to oxygen dissolved in water, fish and other organisms that live in water would not be able to live without this "impurity.

With ground water, level of purity depends on the isolation. Shallow ground water, such as one might draw from a 100-foot deep domestic well, probably has been in the ground less than 50 years, and so might contain human-derived contaminants (not all shallow wells are contaminated, but most have at least trace amounts of some contaminants). The huge volume of ground water stored in deep aquifers, especially in deep aquifers protected by overlying impermeable layers, is a major source of uncontaminated natural water. This water may have been underground for more than 10,000 years. If this water has not been in contact with the naturally occurring contaminants mentioned above, it can be an excellent source of drinking water.

We have been describing a special case of safe water; that is, natural, potable water that has no trace of human-induced contaminants. Many other types of water can be considered safe for most users. If the concentrations of contaminants are so low that they are well below the levels shown to cause health problems, the water is considered safe, even though it is not pure or totally contaminant-free.
Note: This information is adopted from USGS web site

Why should I test my drinking water or bottled water and what are the benefits of doing so?

Do not take your drinking water for granted. Safeguard your most basic necessity. Please read below to understand why.

Since the industrialization, we are continuously producing, using and releasing man-made chemicals in our environment. These chemicals, leaching through the surface, through the contaminated rain water or through the contaminated source of the drinking water, may end up in our kitchen faucet! These chemicals, most of them, are dangerous to human health and cause many heath issues ranging from bad taste, upsetting stomach, attacking our nerve system, damaging our skin, to causing cancer to name just a few.

Even though, drinking water provided by water utilities, is regulated by U.S. EPA, we hear of cases of drinking water contaminations all over the country.

A new study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has found an increase in nitrate, the most common chemical contaminant in the world's ground water, including in aquifers used for drinking-water supply.

Nitrate in U.S. drinking water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency because of concerns related to infant health and possible cancer risks. Use of man-made synthetic fertilizers has steadily increased since World War II, raising the potential for increased nitrate contamination of the nation's ground water, despite efforts in recent decades to improve land-management practices. Monitoring nitrate trends in ground water through time is important in determining how quickly ground-water systems respond to changes in chemical use and best management practices.

The prolonged intake of these contaminants, even in small quantities over a long period can cause health issues.

So, by testing your drinking water periodically, you are ensuring the availability of safe drinking water for you and your family. Moreover, now you know that your own tap or well water is as safe and equally as good (or better) as bottled water. You may reduce the use of costly bottled water unless it is absolutely necessary to use it for convenience.

What you can do to ensure the drinking water quality and safety?

  • Do not take the quality of your drinking water for granted
  • Be aware of the external changes that may impact or might have impacted the quality of your drinking water
  • Let commercial Laboratory perform the test on your drinking water periodically to ensure the quality
  • Invest in your and your family’s well being. Pay attention to the taste, color and smell of your drinking water. Investigate if anything changes with your drinking water quality.

A word or two about bottled water

Is bottled water safe to drink?

Generally, most bottled water is safe to drink. To make sure the safety of your bottle water, you may ask your bottled water provider for their FDA (Food and Drug Administration) drinking water standard compliance data. The bottled water providers are obliged to provide this data to the consumers.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

According to EPA publication, bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on EPA’s tap water standards. Bottled water and tap water are both safe to drink if they meet these standards, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all.

The purchase of bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations (such as floods and earthquakes), and high quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with weakened immune systems. Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying: does it have a better taste than available tap water,  is it treated by method that is preferable to the consumer,  does it contain added nutrients or flavors, etc. More information on bottled water is available from the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), which represents most US bottlers.

Bottle waters and plastic waste

According to Natural Resource Defense Council, In 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. In New York City alone, the transportation of bottled water from Western Europe released an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution.

And while the bottles come from far away, most of them end up close to home -- in a landfill. Most bottled water comes in recyclable PET plastic bottles, but only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled.

Why Torrent Laboratory?

Torrent Laboratory, Inc., is state of California certified (CAL ELAP) Laboratory. Torrent Laboratory employs EPA approved testing procedures (Test Methods) that meet all quality control analytical and documentation requirements demanded by California regulating authorities.

With Torrent’s 18 years of work experience and chemists with a total of over 150 years of analytical expertise, we will know exactly how to serve you! Our final reports will contain an additional attachment that includes the Federal Guidelines so that you can compare your water quality data. And, our relationship doesn’t necessarily end once you receive your data – Torrent is always available if you have additional questions or concerns. Send us an email (dwq@torrentlab.com) and we’ll be happy to discuss your report with you.

We know that there are some cheap “Pre-packaged test kits” available for water testing; however, they usually cannot detect in the part per billion and part per trillion range. Also, “prepackaged test kits” are useless when it comes to the comprehensive water quality testing! Municipality delivered tap water, bottled water, home filtered water, and well water all have unique characteristics that pre-packaged kits do not necessarily address. Torrent believes all of our client’s situations are unique which is why we spend time with you up-front to find out exactly what you are interested in determining. Pre-packaged kits cannot take into consideration information that we may learn from you during our pre-analysis consultation; Information that may very well end up making all of the difference when determining the heath impact on your entire family.

 


Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for the general understanding of the referenced subject only and by no means is the final and authoritative conclusion of the subject matter. Torrent Laboratory, Inc., does not guarantee or take responsibility for the completeness, timeliness, accuracy or relevance of the presented matter here.