Pollutants in drinking water: what about the water quality?
There are many pollutants in drinking water, even though the water should be clean. The following article shows whether you can drink the tap water.
✪ The Swiss consume an average of around 170 liters of water per day, which is not only used for washing, showering and cooking, but also as drinking water. Hardly anyone believes that drinking water can contain pollutants that can affect health. Even if the drinking water should be clean and safe for daily consumption, bacteria are always contained in tap water. Lead, pesticides and microplastics should also not be uncommon in drinking water.
Which pollutants does the drinking water contain?
Our drinking water should actually be hygienically pure. Unfortunately, the reality is different, as tap water always contains pollutants. Pollution levels can vary from region to region, but many sources have found not only bacteria and lead in drinking water, but also pesticides in tap water.
The most common pollutants in tap water are:
- Metals from old lines (lead, copper, aluminum)
- Germs (for example legionella & bacteria)
- Nitrate & Nitrite
- Pesticides from over-fertilization
- Medical residues that are "disposed of" in the toilet
✪ The main cause of contaminated drinking water can be old and corroded water pipes, so that the pollutants contained in them can get into the tap water.
✪ Another cause can be unused or rarely used water pipes, in which bacteria can quickly form in the tap water. Because of this, you should drain the water before use to reduce possible exposure.
How do pollutants get into tap water?
Many consumers wonder how the pollutants get into tap water. Since a large part of the drinking water is fed from the groundwater, the impurities can find their way into the tap water in a variety of ways. Read for yourself which sources of danger come into question.
- Old pipes: Obsolete pipes can release copper, zinc, iron and lead into drinking water due to corrosion.
- Pollutants in the groundwater: Over-fertilization can increase the proportion of nitrates and pesticides in the groundwater. The water will be filtered, but there is still a possibility of pesticides getting into the tap water.
- Personal hygiene: Large amounts of microplastics and nanoparticles get into drinking water every day through the use of cosmetics and care products.
- Detergents: The use of detergents and fabric softeners also contributes to the pollution of drinking water. The impurities can get into the water cycle via the waste water.
- Faucets: Increased bacterial load from "standing water" as soon as water pipes are seldom used.
Can I safely drink the tap water?
You should actually be able to drink tap water without hesitation, provided that the limit values are not exceeded. These limit values are intended to ensure that consumers are not harmed by using the drinking water. Basically, you do not have to worry about the quality of your tap water in Switzerland, as the groundwater and spring water through the use of
- UV disinfection (ozonation),
- Quartz sand,
- Activated carbon,
- Chlorine dioxide
is carefully prepared. In the case of low levels of contamination, ozonation is often sufficient to kill bacteria and germs in drinking water.
What options do you have as a consumer?
As a consumer, you don't just have to put up with possible contamination in drinking water. Since there are many sources of danger that can contaminate tap water, it is always possible to have the water tested using a water analysis. If the water is contaminated, it can be worth purchasing a filter system, for example.
- The water test only takes a few minutes.
- Only a small amount of water is required.
- You can have the water tested for germs, heavy metals and pesticides in a laboratory.
- The water analysis is suitable for tap and well water.
- You receive a clear analysis result.
- The analysis does not cost a lot of money and serves to protect your health.
- Alternatively, a quick test of the water quality is also possible (without a laboratory).
✪ Conclusion: Pesticides and lead are possible in drinking water
Even if the drinking water is carefully filtered, contamination and the associated exceeding of the limit values cannot be ruled out. If you want to be on the safe side as a consumer, you should have your drinking water checked by a laboratory and consider purchasing a filter system.