Hardwater Minerals, Iron and Sulphur
What is it?
Hard Water or high mineral content is the most common of all water problems. Because water is the universal solvent, it picks up a little part of everything that it touches including natural minerals from the ground. Water hardness is primarily due to the presence of calcium and magnesium (electrolytes) in the water. Iron, Sulphur, manganese and other elements can add to the hardness level as well.
Typically many homeowners think that because they have municipal water, the water is automatically soft. Another misnomer is that the only people that have wells have hard water.
Most municipal water in the St. Louis area ranges between 7-11 grains of hardness with some areas reaching as high as 24 grains.
Hardness Classification Table
Table adapted from Water Treatment Fundamentals, prepared and distributed by the Water Quality Association l U.S. Geological Survey Water Hardness Explanation | Water Quality Association Water Hardness Classifications
Typically, a homeowner reading their yearly water quality report will see that hardness is either listed as parts per million (ppm) or grains per gallon (gpg). The Average Hardness level in the United States is 10 Grains, about 85% of the United States water is actually classified as Hard Water.
Is Hard Water Harmful?
High mineral content or hard water is not harmful to the majority of people. However…Hard water creates a lot of problems and costs the average family of 4 homeowner over $2,000 per year to have it coming out of the tap.
Common Hard Water Problems.
- Dry itchy skin and dull brittle hair
- Wastes soap and detergents
- Yellows laundry, dulls colors and shortens the life of the material
- Unsightly soap scum in shower, bathtub, and sink
- Spots and streaks on glassware and dishes
- Damaging Scale buildup in water appliances and plumbing
Damaging effects of Hard Water
Damaging effects minerals or hard water can range from the obvious like scale build up on water fixtures and faucets to residue, streaks or spots on the glassware or soap smell. One of the notable problems for people with hard water is the battle with soap scum which is caused when hardness combines with soap to form an insoluble curd material. With hard water, soap solutions form soap scum instead of producing a lather because the minerals in the water destroy the surfactant (oil dissolving) properties of the soap.
The most noticeable place to see it is on the shower doors and walls. Scrubbing soap scum off the shower or bathtub has been classified as one of the most hated and unhealthy cleaning jobs in the home. Soap scum can be very hard to get off forcing most to use harsh cleaners that are neither good for the respiratory and nervous systems or the environment.
Hard Water effects on Skin and Hair
When you take a shower you’re your washing your body and hair with soap. Consider how hard it is to get soap scum off a shower wall or bathtub and then consider that you are rubbing the soap all over your skin and not the wall. What you are looking at on the wall is considerably worse on you. If you itch or your skin feels dry, understand that you are covered with soap scum and the chemicals that go into products. Add to that the negative drying effect that chlorine/chloramine has on the skin and you are more than likely are going to need the lotion.
Softening Water is not a yes or no proposition.
What most people don’t know is that buying a water softener is not really a choice at all. Popular brands of laundry detergents are bought because they work… not because they are soap. They work because the chemists that formulate them know 85% of the United States has hard water and things don’t come clean until the hard minerals in the water are neutralized. Most of the soap and cleaning products that are used in the home are full of water softening chemicals to help neutralize the hardness or minerals in the water so that the little bit of soap and surfactants in the container can actually do their job cleaning.
The truth is most everyone has to softener their tap water. The only choice a homeowner has is which way to soften their water:
Spend money to fight the water Chemically—a bottle, bar, box or tube at a time and deal with all the aggravation.
Invest in your own whole house water softener and enjoy all of these benefits:
- Softer, Healthier Skin and Hair
- Cleaner, Healthier Showers and Baths
- Cleaner Clothes & Dishes
- 75% Savings on soap and cleaning products
- Water Heater –Energy Savings
- Protection for Your Home
How do I get out of my Water?
The best and most effective way to remove Hard minerals from water is to use an Ion Exchange resin filter or otherwise known as a Water Softener.
The Benefits of Soft water are known and loved by those that have it. The only downside to a water softener is having to put salt or potassium in the brine tank from time to time but it’s a minor inconvenience compared to the life-changing benefits and tremendous savings that a homeowner will enjoy by having it.
The Trionics Series Eco-CM and CMT (Twin) Water Softener provide quality soft water at every tap in your home at an affordable price with the durability and reliability of a commercial-grade construction. These systems provide superior removal of hard water ions that damage expensive plumbing and appliances. The resulting soft water will provide a host of benefits including money savings and protection for your home.
Warning about Salt-Free Water Softeners
Products such as salt-free, magnet and electromagnet systems that make claims of softening the water are not really water softeners at all. These types of systems do not remove the hard water minerals from the water but rather restructure it so that it does not build up inside the plumbing. The reality is that the minerals are still there and the claims made by many if not all of these types of systems are overstated.
The Economics of Hard/Soft Water.
Hard water cost homeowners thousands of dollars yearly. Below is a hard water cost study. The study found an average family of 4 spends about $190 per month in areas like plumbing and appliances, beverages, clothing, but the biggest area of cost to the family was in the area of soap and cleaning products.
The figures below are national average figures based upon the average family of 4 with an average water hardness of 10 grains per gallon.
Compiled from the following sources: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor, National Industrial Conference Board, Water Conditioning Research Council, National Restaurant Association, American Laundry Institute, and Orange county California Research Study, U.S. Bureau of Standards, University of Illinois, and University of New Mexico.
Cost /Savings associated with removing minerals (soft water)
A Trionics consumer research study found the A family of 2, on average spends approximately $60-$70 a month to buy soaps, chemical cleaners, skin lotions and others cleaning and personal products to help fight the direct and indirect effects of hard water.
- A family of 3 ……$70-$80
- A family of 4 ……$80-$90
- add $10 a month per family member to the total bill
Here is how the money adds up for a family of 4.
- $80 x 12 months= $960.00
- $960.00 x 5 years = $4,800.00
That’s $4,800.00 over the next 5 years for chemical water softeners but unfortunately without the benefits of actual real soft water and you will still be dealing with all the negative effects of your hard water.
According to the study an average family of 4 homeowner can save up to 75% of their soap and cleaning bill with softened water.
When you consider that you really don’t use anything in your home more than water doesn’t it make sense that it should be the best for your family and home? Especially when you consider that you have to spend the money anyway.
What About the EPA and My Water Provider?
The EPA does not Regulate the Hardness Level of tap water. Because excessive levels of hardness can make it expensive to maintain water service some water providers will reduce the hardness level in the water by using industrial water softeners.
Chlorine, Chloramine and Chemicals
What are they?
There are over 75,000 chemical compounds utilized in our world every day. Because water is the universal solvent it picks up a little part of everything it comes into contact with. By the time water gets done washing our environment it has picked up a number of these chemical contaminants. While all chemicals are not necessarily in your tap water the truth is there is no way of knowing exactly what is in your drinking water unless you tested for every single one. Also, water is very much a day to day thing. What’s in the river or water source today could be something entirely different tomorrow. The EPA requires your local water provider to test for and regulate only 88 contaminates. So if they don’t test for something does that mean it’s not in the water?
Chlorine and Chloramines are two of the most commonly used chemicals by water providers to disinfect tap water. Their use is designed to kill disease-causing micro-organisms. While most homeowners are familiar with Chlorine, Chloramines (chlorine mixed with ammonia) is relatively new and its use is on the rise.
This toxic mix of ammonia and chlorine is gaining popularity with water providers, with 1 in 5 Americans exposed to it, and more municipal treatments changing over each year. The reason seems to be that it can stay in the water for longer therefore disinfecting longer, but this causes more problems, making it important to effectively remove chloramine from the water.
Things to Know about Chlorine
- Simply stated chlorine/chloramines are pesticides, as defined by the U.S. EPA, whose sole purpose is to kill living organisms. Humans are living organisms too.
- 2/3rds of our harmful exposure is due to inhalation of steam and skin absorption while showering.
- Chlorine has a very negative cosmetic effect robbing your skin and hair of moisture and elasticity.
- Chlorine is relatively easy to filter out of the water.
Things to Know about Chloramines
- Chloramine exists as three different forms: mono chloramine, dichloramine, and trichloramine. They are related and are easily converted into each other; thus, they are more appropriately called chloramines.
- Chloramines are all respiratory irritants and damage mucous membranes
- Chloramine effectiveness as a germicide comes with a warning. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that Chloramine is 2,000X to 100,000X less effective (yes, you read that right) at killing microbes than free chlorine. The whole idea of disinfecting the water with Chloramine is to kill water-borne diseases.
- Chloramine is difficult to reduce/remove from water
Chlorine/Chloramine for disinfection of tap water could be likened to the bag on a loaf of bread. It’s there to protect it from outside contamination. You eat the bread…not the bag. Chlorine/Chloramine is sort of like that bag. Once you get your water to the house the chlorine/chloramine has done its job and the best thing to do is filter it out of the water so you’re not exposing yourself and your family to the negative effects
Are Chlorine and Chloramines Harmful?
While it is necessary to disinfect the water before drinking or using it, using Chlorine/Chloramines has unintended consequences..
Chlorine/Chloramines interact with other organic chemicals from common soil run off to produce what is known as Disinfection by-products. The most well-known are Trihalomethanes (THMS). THM’s are known cancer causing agents.
Toxic effect of Chlorine, Chloramine VOC”s and skin absorption— Hazards in the bath & shower.
” A five-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency concurred. Studies by Dr. Julian Andelman, Professor of Water Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, found less chemical exposure from drinking chlorine contaminated water than using it to wash the clothes or take a shower.
1. SKIN PENETRATION
H.S. Brown, Ph.D.; D.R. Bishop, MPH, and C.A. Rowan, MSPH, report that: “Assessments of drinking water safety rely on the assumption that ingestion represents the principle route of exposure.” Researchers found that skin absorption contributed from 29 to 91% of the total dose, averaging 64 %. The researchers concluded that skin absorption of contaminants in municipal water has been underestimated and that ingestion may not constitute the sole or even primary route of exposure.
- In addition to penetration of contaminants through the skin to the body as a whole,
Chlorine chemically bonds with proteins in the hair, skin and scalp.
- Hair can become rough and brittle and lose color.
- Skin can dry out with itchy, flaky scalp occurring.
- Chlorine can aggravate sensitive areas in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
- Chloroform (a Trihalomethane or THM) and trichloroethylene (TCE) are two highly volatile toxic chemicals that have been identified in many municipal drinking-water supplies.
- In the shower, when temperature and chemical concentrations increase and diameter of shower head hole decreases, volatilization increases.
- Data indicated that hot showers can liberate about 50% of the dissolved chloroform and 80% of the dissolved TCE into the air.
- Chlorine, TCE, chloroform, benzene, and others are readily absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream.
3. Carcinogens and VOC’s in the Bath Water.
If chlorine or Chloramine is present in the water than it is most likely that other contaminants are also.
Chlorine and Chloramine combine with organic substances forming:
- Trihalomethanes (Carcinogen)
- Halo acetic Acids (Carcinogen)
- Bromate (Carcinogen)
- Chlorite (Carcinogen)
Other contaminants known to cause cancer as well as issues with the liver, kidneys and the blood circulatory systems are VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds.
The most common volatile compounds in drinking water supplies, as found by the EPA, are as listed:
- carbon tetrachloride
- ethylene chloride
- vinyl chloride
That’s a big list with some bad health effects. Now consider that the EPA considers them common. A list of each one of these contaminates along with the adverse health effects they can cause is available from the EPA website.
How do I get this stuff out of my Water?
If you want to effectively remove chloramine from water, the options are few. It is extremely hard to remove. Chloramine can be removed with essentially the same strategies that are used to remove chlorine in water but it takes more carbon and more contact time to get it out. “Catalytic” carbon is far superior to regular carbon and specifically processed for exceptional chloramine removal.
Chloramine is ammonia (NH3) bonded to chlorine and does not break down easily. Chloramine is very difficult to remove because the chlorine part of the chloramine molecule has to be separated from the ammonia molecule. Catalytic carbon breaks these molecular bonds much more effectively than other types of carbon and allows for the chlorine part to be removed but not the Ammonia part.
What About the EPA and My Water Provider?
Understanding the EPA Water quality Standards.
Our municipal water treatment facilities are not designed or effective for removing these synthetic chemicals and typically only consist of sand bed filtration and disinfection, much like a standard swimming pool filter. For the most part, today’s water treatment facilities are much the same as they were at the turn of the century. When discussing the quality of the municipal tap water we at Trionics understand that the water is considered safe to drink as long as it meets the standards set forth by the EPA.
The EPA is responsible for setting the standards for drinking water and requires water providers to test for and regulate a total 88 contaminates.
1. 3 Disinfectants- Chlorine & Chloramine are used to kill waterborne microbes but are still considered a contaminant.
2. 4 DPB’s or Disinfection By-Products-These are group of toxins or carcinogens typically found in tap water. These toxins are formed when chlorine or chloramine combine with naturally occurring organic chemicals like decaying leaves or vegetation from soil run-off. DPB toxins are typically found at higher levels from water that comes from Rivers, Lakes or Streams where there is natural soil run-off and microbes are more prevalent.
3. 16 Inorganic chemicals
4. 53 Organics Chemicals
5. There are 75,000+ different chemical compounds used in our everyday environment
6. safety levels for the 88 contaminates are based upon the potential health effects of 175 lb adult only drinking that one chemical and does not take into account the combined toxicity of two or more chemicals.
7. Children consume 3x’s the amount of fluid per pound of body weight.
8. Water providers are allowed to average contaminate testing results over the period of a year which means contaminates can spike at different times of the year to unhealthy levels but compliance with EPA safety regulations is maintained.
In 2001, 1 out of 4 community water systems did not conduct testing or report the results for all of the monitoring required to verify the safety of their drinking water.– Factoids: Drinking Water and Ground Water Statistics for 2001, EPA 816-K-02-004.
What are they?
The term pathogen is used to describe a parasite or infectious agent that causes disease. Diseases caused by organisms in humans are known as pathogenic diseases. Pathogenic microorganisms are most commonly transmitted in contaminated fresh water. Infection commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking, in the preparation of food, or the consumption of infected food.
How Are Pathogens Harmful?
According to the EPA these pose a special health risk or infants, young children, elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.
Common Pathogens found in Tap Water
Source— Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and indicate that other potentially harmful bacteria like E. coli may be present.
Source—Human or Animal Fecal Waste
Symptoms—Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea, vomiting, cramps)
3. Fecal coliform and E.coli
Source— Human or Animal Fecal Waste
Symptoms— Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea, vomiting, cramps) or headaches
4. Giardia Lambia
Source—Human and animal fecal waste
Symptoms—Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea, vomiting, cramps)
a. Source— Contaminated water: the organism thrives in warm aquatic environments.
b. Symptoms—Legionnaires’ disease has severe symptoms such as fever, chills, pneumonia (with cough that sometimes produces sputum-a mucus that is coughed up from the lower airways), ataxia, anorexia, muscle aches, malaise or “out of sorts” and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting.
a. Source—Human and animal fecal waste
b. Symptoms—Short term—Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea, vomiting, cramps). Some of the diseases that are caused by viral pathogens include:
How do I get out of my Water?
Treatment to eliminate water-borne microbes is by (POE) point of entry or (POU) point of use UV (ultra-violet light) eradication or RO (Reverse Osmosis) purification technologies. The Trionics ECO-UV made by Sterilight™ is a reliable, economical and chemical-free way to destroy chlorine-resistant pathogens and many other water-borne microbes.
What About the EPA and My Water Provider?
For the most part, today’s water treatment facilities are much the same as they were at the turn of the century. Since the early 1900’s Municipalities primary water treatment techniques for killing pathogens in tap water detailed utilizing chlorine to disinfect drinking water, thus reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases
such as dysentery, typhoid and cholera.
Over time as our understanding of microbial contaminants has improved. Scientists and health professionals have found that a wide range of microorganisms such as parasites/protozoa, bacteria, and viruses may persist in “potable” or what is classified by the EPA as “safe” drinking water.
While chlorine is fairly effective for disinfection of bacteria and viruses it does not provide complete disinfection against parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Cryptosporidium parasites are protected by outer shells that allow them to survive for long periods of time and make them very resistant to disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine. Over the past 20 years, Cryptosporidium has become recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (recreational water and drinking water) in humans in the United States.
According to the EPA, the very young, very old and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. In addition water providers are switching to Chloramine (chlorine and ammonia) in order to reduce cancer-causing THM disinfection by-products. However, Chloramine effectiveness as a germicide comes with a warning by the World Health Organization. WHO states that Chloramine is 2,000X to 100,000X less effective at killing water-borne microbes than free chlorine. Yes, you read that right. These days we have the “super bugs” which are much more complex. They resist conventional water treatment and in some cases may increase the surviving organism’s resistance to antibiotics. Utilizing Chloramines as a Disinfectant is not recommended by the World Health Organization.
The fact remains that at any time water can change and become contaminated with harmful pathogens.
For a full Explanation of the EPA regulations regarding Pathogens and water-borne microbes see EPA ‘s Official Report –Water on Tap. What you need to Know.
TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)
TDS- Total Dissolved Solids and Pharmaceuticals
What are they?
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is a measure of the total amount of all contaminants contained in drinking water, both natural and man-made. TDS’s are smaller than typical metals and chemicals found in the water and cannot be removed by a traditional filter.
Missouri and Illinois drinking water sources include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and wells.
As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material. Water can also pick up substances from animals or human activity like Agricultural and residential runoff or water discharge from industrial or sewage treatment plants
Examples of TDS contaminates are:
- Nitrates from fertilizers
- Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides
Since there are over 75,000 chemicals used in our everyday environment means there could be any number
of different TDS contaminates in your water on any given day.
Are Total Dissolved Solids Harmful?
Most often, high levels of TDS are caused by the presence of potassium, chlorides, and sodium. These ions have little or no short-term effects. But since TDS incorporates anything that can be dissolved by water (which is everything), there is also the possibility that any of the other 75,000+ Chemicals we use may also be in your glass of water.
Recent test have detected a vast array of pharmaceuticals in municipal drinking water supplies including antibiotics, anti-convulsants’, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, just name a few. Pharmaceuticals were detected in 28 out of 35 watersheds used by major water providers in the U.S. The problem isn’t confined to surface water either. Federal scientists drew water in 24 states from aquifers near contaminate sources such as Landfills and animal feed and found small levels of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs-AP drugs in the drinking water.
There are any number of water contaminants that contribute to the Total Dissolved Solid Category (anything
that can be dissolved) that may pose long-term health risks if they exceed certain levels.
Water that is high in TDS may taste bitter, salty, or metallic and may have unpleasant odors.
The water is less thirst quenching, and can interfere with the taste of foods and beverages
making them less desirable to consume.
How do I get out of my Water?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the only Proven Technology for the effective filtering of Total Dissolved Solids.RO removes TDS by forcing the water, under pressure, through a synthetic membrane. The membrane contains microscopic pores which will allow only molecules smaller than 0.001 microns to pass through. By comparison, a, human blood cell is 5 microns. Since the dissolved solid molecules are large compared to the water molecules, the water will squeeze through the membrane leaving the contaminants behind and producing purified water.
The Trionics FOY-RO (Reverse Osmosis) Drinking water Purifier/Enhancer is capable of removing 90-99% of TDS from the water.
TDS—The EPA and My Water Provider
Interestingly enough, Total Dissolved Solids are classified by the EPA as a Secondary contaminate and are considered a nuisance.. The EPA does not require water providers to conduct any testing and has not set any safety limits for drugs in drinking water. The EPA does make recommendations to water providers regarding TDS testing but it is not mandatory but rather totally volunteer.
The EPA Secondary Regulations advise a maximum contamination level (MCL) of 500mg/liter, or 500 parts per million (ppm) for TDS. Numerous water supplies exceed this level. When TDS levels exceed 1000mg/L it is generally considered unfit for human consumption.
A TDS meter used for measuring TDS is based on the electrical conductivity (EC) of water. Pure
water has virtually zero conductivity.
A standard definition for “dissolved solids” is that they must be small enough to pass through a 2-micron filter. Contaminants larger than 2 microns are often referred to as Total Suspended Solids.
“There is increased evidence for an association between rectal, colon and bladder cancer and the consumption of chlorinated drinking water.”
“Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States”.
“Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is as much as 93% higher those whose water does not contain chlorine.”
“The Way we guarantee safe drinking water is broken and needs to be fixed.”