Drinking Water Testing Safety Facts Revealed

Air Quality and Water Testing

Mold isn’t a bad word.Every home has mold and without it the world wouldn’t be habitable for humans or animals. Mold only becomes a problem when there is too much of it,when it causes problems for your health,or when it is unsightly and causing damage to property.

This is where mold testing comes in.Take a look at this simple guide to mold testing to determine if you need mold testing,and what kind of testing best suits your needs

Residential inspection offers Air quality testing and water testing. is a full service environmental analytical laboratory, specializing in mold analysis, servicing home inspectors and mold testing professionals nationwide

unique and distinguished by offering the Mold|Safe Accuracy Guarantee, the only mold warranty in the country. The Accuracy Guarantee covers up to $3,000 for remediation of any visible mold for 90 days after an inspection when the inspection report indicates no visible mold or problematic mold counts in the air.

offers the long-sought after assurance by home and mold inspectors that home buyers, home sellers, and real estate agents can rely on to ensure they are getting a problem free property.

Well Water Testing

Prior to purchasing a home with a well, it’s important to have the well tested to make sure it’s in good condition. It’s also important to test the water that comes from the well to ensure it’s safe for human consumption

Home Inspections can provide you with well inspection services, including water quality testing services. We’ve been providing people throughout the state with well water inspections for more than a decade, and we have the experience it takes to spot potential problems during well water testing and inspection.

The water well inspectors from Home Inspections typically begin by performing load tests on a well. This helps us determine if a well is experiencing any issues with regard to water pressure, water flow or recovery. We’ll also examine the individual components within the well to ensure they’re operating properly. Following the inspection, we can provide suggestions for any repairs that might need to be made to the well, either now or at some point in the future.

Water Quality Testing

If your family gets drinking water from a private well, do you know if your water is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? Where can you go for help or advice? The EPA regulates public water systems; it does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells

Approximately 15% of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies, and these supplies are not subject to EPA standards, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.

What does the testing cover?













Source Lead



Arsenic, Uranium, Coliform, E.Coli, Nitrates, Nitrites, pH, Chloride, Hardness, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Source Lead, Fluoride Water Testing.

Should I test my water quality?

When you make an offer to purchase a house with a private well, perform a test to analyze water quality. Make your contract contingent on obtaining the desired test results. Use a state-certified laboratory, and if you are allowed to draw water samples yourself, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

The EPA recommends that you test well water annually for nitrates and coliform bacteria, but the lab may suggest additional tests important for your specific property or region

Such as:

Testing for pesticides if the home is built on the site of an old orchard or farm.

Testing for volatile organic chemicals if an oil tank is buried on the property, or if commercial storage tanks are buried nearby.

Testing for lead if the home has lead pipes.

Lead tests are important for homes with public water, too, since contamination occurs after the water enters the plumbing.

The results of your water tests might show contaminants that are offensive, but not health risks. The lab can advise you about the differences between that type of contaminant and dangerous contaminants, and their possible sources. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as it takes to answer all of your concerns.

Water Testing for Private Wells and Springs

Homes in different areas obtain water from different sources: a home within the city limits may draw water from a municipal source, while homes in rural areas often obtain water from a well or spring. Water taken from a municipal system is usually monitored closely by the municipality for various bacteria and contaminants. If the bacteria count reaches a certain level due to spring runoff, heavy rains or a heat wave that explodes the bacteria count, a “boil water advisory” is issued.

People in rural areas do not have the luxury of continuous monitoring of their water source. Their water may be contaminated in a number of ways: agricultural runoff can deliver pesticides, nitrogen and coliform bacteria to their well, rodents may find their way into the well or spring, or colonies of insects may set up camp in their water source.

That depends upon several factors.

If the home will be financed with an FHA or VA loan, the lender will most likely require a Standard Scan or an FHA Scan at the very least. The FHA Scan tests for coliform, lead, nitrates and nitrites. However, it may be best to order a more complete water test if you have any concerns about nearby sources of water contamination

Ask yourself if you have any concerns about the water source as it relates to it’s proximity to agricultural areas, major highways that are heavily salted in winter, gas stations, industrial facilities, landfills, and the home’s septic system. Water can become contaminated with bacteria, e coli, and any number of heavy metals and industrial pollutants if the water source is near any of these influences.

Another concern may be the material used in the plumbing system of the home: some of the water distribution piping in the home may be made of lead, which could contribute to elevated levels of lead in the drinking water. Ask your home inspector to identify the plumbing materials in the home, including the main water inlet, to determine if lead contamination may be a concern.

Water Testing And Ammonia Levels

Why should my well water get tested and for what contaminants?

There are many different reasons to get your well water tested at a laboratory. People get their

wells tested when they are having water quality problems (unusual color or odor), when they

are selling or buying a home, and when a new well is installed or an old well or well pump is

maintained. In addition, it is good practice to have your well water checked at least once a

year and even to reevaluate your drinking water source if posed with health-related problems.

Local health departments are the main regulatory agency with respect to residential wells. They

are required to maintain a list of environmental contaminants within their jurisdiction, and they

consider this information when they issue permits for new wells. Your local health department is

usually at the district or county level, and their phone number can be found in a local telephone

book or online at www.malph.org. Since the local health department tracks this contaminant

information, and contaminants are site-specifi c depending on the contaminant source, it is

worthwhile to contact the local health department to determine what contaminants may be

in your area. If a contaminant such as a petroleum product, industrial solvent, heavy metal,

herbicide, or pesticide is in the area, the health department may recommend a test for the

contaminant. When calling a local health department or health district to discuss well water

quality, ask to speak with a water sanitarian.

When buying or selling a home, some testing may be required. Some counties require that

wells be tested for certain contaminants upon the sale of a home (called “point of sale”

testing). A test for bacteria or even an “automated partial chemistry” test may be required. The

automated partial chemistry test is for the following contaminants: chloride, fl uoride, hardness,

iron, nitrate, nitrite, sodium, and sulfate. In addition to this point of sale testing, various lending

institutions require drinking water testing before mortgage approval (e.g., the Federal Housing

Administration requires testing for lead in drinking water sources before they will approve the

lending transaction), so contact both the lending institution and the local health department to

make an informed contaminant test selection decision.

Water Sample Analysis

Water sample testing detects bacterial indicators of contamination:

in drinking water and non-potable sources (i.e., sewage, pools, spa, and recreational beaches)

for investigations linked to clinical illness

Public Health Inspectors can review requirements for testing before submitting samples to PHO.

PHO Laboratory performs microbiological testing of water samples for the detection of bacterial indicators of contamination and specific pathogens in water. Each water sample is tested for specific indicators according to the water source.

If testing is required on a water source that is not listed in the PHO Laboratory water testing menu below, or testing is needed to identify specific etiological agents in water related to a laboratory confirmed clinical case or outbreak investigation, boards of health are asked to consult with the microbiologist, or designate, overseeing the water testing program prior to sample submission.

Sample collection requirements, sample handling, shipping conditions, test information including testing frequency, turnaround times and reporting limits are dependent on the specific water source. Samples will not be processed if the requisition is not completely and accurately filled in when received at the laboratory; and a new sample and completed form will be required to be submitted.

  • Drinking water (including bottled water)
  • Drinking water – Private citizen
  • Ice – Treated
  • Public Beach Water
  • Recreational Water Facilities, Public pools/Spas
  • Suspected Sewage Contamination – Water

Health and Drinking Water

Is my tap water safe to drink?

Most community water systems get a passing grade from the federal government, because drinking water regulations allow contaminants in tap water at levels greater than what scientists deem to be safe. In addition, there are many unregulated contaminants that end up in drinking water.

If you want or need better drinking water than what comes from the tap, EWG suggests buying a home water filter certified to remove or reduce the contaminants found in your tap water. EWG has developed an extensive online guide to choosing a water filter, which will help you decide which one is right for you.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

In most situations, bottled water is not the answer. The problem with bottled water is that you cannot be sure what you are getting. Reports show that some bottled water is just tap water, filtered in some cases and untreated in others. Unlike public water suppliers, bottled water manufacturers are not required by law to disclose the levels of any contaminants in their products.

In addition to water contaminants that could come from the source water, bottled water may also be contaminated with plastic additives that can migrate from plastic packaging. Many of these additives have not been fully assessed for safety by the Food and Drug Administration, the agency with oversight over food and beverage packaging.

Bottled water may be the appropriate choice in an emergency – after major storms or earthquakes, or a large-scale infrastructure failure. In cases such as these, choose bottled water that carries a disclosure about its source and treatment, and the results of water quality testing.

How can I be clear to a laboratory that I want them to use only USEPA-approved methods?

Laboratories may be certified by MassDEP in any one or more of 132 parameters, analytes or categories. Since a laboratory might not be certified in the tests required or recommended by your local Board of Health, you should put in writing in your contract with the laboratory that it must comply with the requirements of your town’s Board of Health. Check the information on the second page of the list of certified laboratories to see if MassDEP offers certification for the analytes you are concerned about.

If you want your water tested by a certified laboratory even though you are not required to use a certified laboratory, make it clear to the laboratory that you want the test done using USEPA approved methods and according to MassDEP’s requirements for certified laboratories which are found in Massachusetts regulations at 310 CMR 42.00.

Facts about your water

General water facts

  • Canada’s water resources account for approximately 7 per cent of the world’s renewable fresh water
  • An estimated 884 million people around the world live without access to safe water
  • The human body is approximately 70 per cent water and every system in our body uses water
  • A human being can live only four to seven days without water

Local water facts

  • In the Region of Peel, tap water arrives at your home, school or business within 3 to 6 days of being taken from Lake Ontario
  • There are more than 4,000 kilometres of water mains running beneath the ground in Peel
  • There are more than 25,000 water hydrants in the Region of Peel
  • More than 300,000 homes and businesses receive safe, clean drinking water from the Region of Peel

Mold Inspection And Prevention Tips

How To Choose A Good Mold Inspector

Mold inspectors are easy to find as he/she may be found anywhere. However, finding a certified mold inspector, especially certified mold inspector is a real task. First you need to determine whether you need a mold inspector at all. There is a cheat sheet for that. But if you are very concerned about your health and feel that your house contains molds, you can hire the services of a mold inspector. The inspector should be a certified one, whatsoever.

Prior Experience

You should consider the experience even if the mold inspector is certified mold inspector. You should check the number of mold inspections the inspector has performed as you must have heard of, ‘practice makes a man perfect.’ All you need for your house molds is a perfect mold inspector. Furthermore, your good mold inspector would have performed over hundred inspections a year. In this way, you would be sure that the inspector has seen a wide range of scenarios. Also, ask your mold inspector how many verifiable mold inspections have been conducted.


It is pertinent to mention here that some states allowed a person to obtain the license of mold inspector without requiring him/her to pass any exam or any proof that he is competent to be a professional mold inspector. Also, there are many certifications and as many certificates. Your mold inspector should have membership with any nationally recognized trade association for mold professionals. The organization certifying his/her credentials should also be nationally recognized. Also, ensure that the inspector’s certification has been given on verifiable work experience and has been issued by a reputed educational institution.


Every professional is well equipped and same goes for a good mold inspector. A certified mold inspector will have the basic equipment like an air sampling pump, a respirator and a moisture meter. He/she should also have the sampling media, gloves, flash light, a mirror, and knee pads. Also, an adept mold inspector shall have the latest technology as being low tech does not go well with the profile of a mold inspector. Look out for the thermal imaging camera in his/her equipment which detects the moisture-linked temperature fluctuations.

Inspection Report

A certified mold inspector will be able to give you a detailed inspection report mentioning environmental monitoring results, visual findings, his/her conclusions, interpretation of lab results, and his/her recommendations as to how to get rid of the mold problem. A mere lab report will only make you go to another mold inspector to interpret the results. Beware of the inspectors who charge low price per sample because many of those do not deem it necessary to provide you these details

Things To Look For (And Look Out For) When Choosing A Mold Remediation Specialist.

So They Can Suck More Money Out Of Your Wallet. A lot of remediators take advantage of their customers’ lack of knowledge about mold remediation.They claim there is mold where there is none. They sell extra services that aren’t needed. They quotetheir prices twice as high as it should be, and their innocent customers (more like victims) don’t knowthe difference.

Be Wary Of Mold Remediators That Also Offer Testing Services.

After a mold remediator does his job, you want to get your home tested to make sure it’s at proper mold levels.

No Matter What Most Remediators Say, We

Rarely Need To Treat Mold With Chemicals. Most mold remediators will tell you that you need to treat the problem area with antimicrobial chemicals, special mold paint and a host of other chemicals during remediation.

Certain Mold Remediators Use Cheap,

Imitation Materials That They Pass Off As The Real Thing. I know a guy in the mold remediation business that passes off regular primer as mold encapsulant. If you aren’t familiar with the difference, it’s pretty simple. Mold encapsulant delays mold growth; primer does not.

Some Mold Remediators Don’t Think The Problem Through, And Can Cost You Thousands Of Dollars You Didn’t Need To Spend.

This one relates to problem 4. Most remediators are more in interested in lining their own pockets than providing you with the best solution to your mold problem. They have a “cookie cutter” approach to every situation. As a result, you may spend thousands of dollars you didn’t have to in mold-remediation services, chemical treatments, and home repair costs.

Reasons For Using a Professional Mold Remediation Service

It’s no secret that mold damage inside one’s home can cause serious health issues for those who inhabit the space. Anyone that has mold growth inside their home or business—but also uses air conditioning—is at risk of those mold spores shifting around the air ducts and spreading throughout the home’s entire circulation of air. This is how your system will typically get infected with mold.

You Will Receive a Proper Mold Assessment

One common root cause of mold and its resulting sickness is from a combination of air conditioning and humidity. When systems rapidly try to cool down a home or business amidst the humidity, air condenses inside the vents. If this is the case in your home, you need to discover the source, find the problem areas you don’t see, and enlist quality house cleaning that removes mold for good.

The Mold Problem Will Be Properly Treated

When you’ve found a professional house cleaning company you can place absolute confidence in, the level of experience will be apparent immediately. Step one involves completely assessing the moisture problem. Step two is to properly treat and clean all affected areas. The process for mold remediation involves sealing off the mold, controlling all humidity, physically removing the mold, and cleaning up afterwards

Proper Mold Remediation Prevents Future Problems

Proper mold remediation reduces spreading to prevent future problems. This way you won’t have to pay more for expensive products, on top of having to call a repairman to come back for additional work. A seasoned professional will be able to accurately identify the problem areas and properly educate you as to how you’ll stop the problems from occurring again.

You’ll Receive Multiple Tips to Prevent Future Mold Problems

When hiring a mold removal specialist, you’ll receive multiple tips to prevent future mold problems and secure safe and proper ventilation. Since mold problems require specialized expertise, you’ll want a good communicator in the field who is both dependable and honest. Meet the professionals, who have serviced thousands of satisfied homeowners. Your own home’s perfect solution will vary, but you’ll likely need leaky pipes, roofs, and more fixed in order to guarantee mold won’t continue building up

Here’s What You Need to Do After Your Mold Remediation

No property owner wants to hear that one of their buildings has a mold problem. Unfortunately, any building can be susceptible under the right conditions. All a mold outbreak needs is moisture, warmth, and organic matter to grow on. Moisture can be caused by a natural disaster, a leaky pipe, or even simply excess humidity that is not vented adequately from the area. Warmth and organic matter are provided by the building itself

If you’ve ever dealt with mold in one of your buildings, you understand both how dangerous it can be and also how potentially costly remediation can be. What you may not know is that hiring a remediation contractor may not be the end of the ordeal for you.

Moisture and mold growth are both tricky problems to solve. Both can go undetected behind walls and in hidden areas, like ducts, crawl spaces, or behind vinyl wall coverings. Even an experienced remediation design firm can make mistakes or miss something that is well hidden. A less experienced remediation contractor may even miss obvious problems.

Furthermore, if the leak or other cause of moisture is not properly diagnosed, or if there are multiple causes and only one of them is corrected, you can continue to have a problem after remediation. Likewise, if the affected area was quite large, the initial mold assessment may not have been able to identify all sources of moisture, or the contractor may not have addressed everything.

For this reason, many commercial property owners choose to have a post-mold remediation inspection and testing service conducted after mold remediation. A post-mold remediation inspection report will tell you definitively whether the problem has been solved and the building is ready for tenants to occupy safely. It will also identify any areas that need additional attention, so you can have the remediation firm address it immediately, before it gets worse again.



The primary reason that we charge for our mold inspections is the time and resources that go into each one. Some of our competitors offer “free” inspections, which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem.

Answers to these types of questions get us closer to solving the problem at hand, and help us to know where to look.

Next, the real investigation begins. We’ll then crawl under the house, poke around, and take moisture and relative humidity readings in affected areas, unaffected areas, and outdoors for the best possible points of reference.

Sometimes the mold problem can be easily diagnosed and repaired, like a pipe leaking under the house, but other times we don’t see mold at all. Because the root of the problem is beyond the obvious, we need to think outside the box. No company that offers a free mold inspection will be going to great lengths to determine the true causes of your problem.

We were called to an Athens residence because the tenants reported a musty/moldy smell in the home. Although we found some mold, and a slight musty odor after crawling down into the dirt cellar, the tenants said that was not what they were smelling. We also noticed that the sun was breaking down an old window lining in the basement, creating an odorous gas, but that wasn’t the source either

Increase Your Selling Chances With A Pre Listing Home Inspection

How to Select a Home Inspector

Choosing a home inspector is part of the home buying process, a decision that can have a significant impact on your satisfaction with your future home. The home inspector is responsible for telling you the things you need to know about the home you are interested in. His or her ability to spot potential issues is vital for you to make an informed purchase, one you will be happy with over the long-term. Knowing how to select a home inspector becomes paramount, especially for first-time buyers.

You only need to do a quick search for home inspectors in your area to find numerous options, but as with so many professions, some inspectors are better than others. The following tips will help you find a home inspector that you can be happy with, someone you can trust to provide you with all the relevant facts about the home you want to buy.

Get a reference from your real estate agent.

One of the best resources for picking a home inspector should be your Realtor. Do you know your real estate agent well and trust them? Do you feel they have your best interests at heart and are not more concerned about their pocket book? If you can confidently answer these two questions in the affirmative, then there is no reason not to trust your Realtors advice on who to select as a home inspector.

Look for a company that is bonded and insured

Whether you go with a big company or a single inspector working on his or her own, you want to make sure that whoever examines the home is bonded and insured. Finding out about insurance is one of the most important questions to ask when interviewing a home inspection.

Verify that the inspection company only does inspections – not home repairs and renovations.

Hiring someone that just does inspections is an important tip for finding the right home inspector! Home inspection companies that sell other services – such as roofing, plumbing, kitchen and bathroom renovations, etc. – have a conflict of interest. The fact that they sell repair and renovation services means they are more likely to see problems where there aren’t any.

How to Choose a Home Inspection Company

When a house is bought or sold, a home inspection is a necessary procedure that alerts both homeowners and buyers to the condition of the property in question. If you are selling a home, it is important to have an inspection conducted so that you will be aware of any potential issues with the home you are selling. If you are buying a home, you should have a separate inspection conducted to be sure there are no hidden issues, and to negotiate the contract with potential repairs or problems in mind.

Be prepared for the cost. The average fee for a home inspection is between $350-$500, but the information received from an inspector is priceless. It could be the turning point between a sale and a buyer going back to searching for the perfect home.

Understand the actual inspection. Home inspectors enter a home and analyze all of the major components that make up a house purchase. Home inspection companies document the safety and overall condition of a home at the time of the inspection. Home inspections usually take about 3 hours for a minimal inspection, and 5 or 6 hours in order to arrive at a thorough, proper assessment. Depending on how old or large a house is, it may take longer or less time to complete.

Know what will be inspected. A home inspector must thoroughly conduct a review of the inner and outer areas of a house

Be prepared for bad news. It is a home inspector’s job to find any existing or potential problems with a house. They can lose their license if they fail to report issues, so although it might feel like they’re purposely giving bad news, be thankful for the information.

Finding the Right Home Inspector

If you are buying a home, an inspection could reveal problems you never would’ve noticed. An inspection can require the seller to fix what needs fixing before you buy the home. You could also find issues that make you decide not to buy. If you’re a seller, an inspection can help you find problems before you put the house on the market, letting you make the repairs without wrangling over the cost with a potential buyer. Learn why you should get an inspection before selling your home.

What to expect on inspection day

On the day of the inspection, the inspector performs an initial site evaluation. Then the inspector takes you on a tour to point out the assets as well as any potential problems. Pay attention, watch, ask questions and learn. A thorough inspection can find problems related to water entry, roof leaks, insect infestation, unsafe wiring, failed septic systems, poor plumbing, wet basements, mold and mildew, and safety hazards

At the end of the inspection, you receive a written report detailing all the findings. The report should contain photographs and descriptions of any damage or defects found during the inspection as well as details on the location of damage. Pictures help you understand the scope and location of the damage, and visual proof makes it easier to get repair estimates

So how can an inspector have expertise in so many different things? The simple answer is: Some don’t. That’s why it’s important to check an inspector’s background and references. Most home inspections are thorough, but even the best inspectors might not catch everything. “The condition of the home is the ‘snapshot’ of that day,” says John Palczuk of Carolina Inspections. “The home inspector is not going to find every possible thing wrong or that could go wrong. That’s an unrealistic expectation.”

Here’s how to find the right home inspector:

Look for an inspector before you shop for a home. If you choose a home first, time is critical and you may feel pressured to pick the first inspector you meet.

How to Choose a Home Inspector

Would you call a retail store and ask “How much do you charge for a TV?” Probably not. You’d have to do research and decide what you want to buy before asking for prices. One of the toughest calls that I get as a home inspector is “What do you charge for a home inspection?”

Home buyers often ask me this because they’re trying to find the inspector that offers the best deal. When buyers are only concerned with the price of a home inspection, they have already made an assumption that all home inspectors offer the same thing, and they assume they’re comparing apples to apples. This just isn’t true.

Here are a few key things to research before deciding on a home inspector, and to help make sure you’re making a fair comparison when it comes down to price. This is all information that home inspectors typically list on their web site (yes, I’m assuming they have a web site).

When reviewing a sample report, there is much more to look for than just photos and illustrations. Watch out for useless report writing that is designed to cover the home inspector’s butt, not yours. A bad report would contain a lot of phrases like “This was observed, recommend further evaluation and correction by a licensed blah blah blah”.  With this type of writing, you could easily have an inspection report that recommends a dozen additional inspections.   If further inspections are needed, that’s fine, but these recommendations should never be made lightly, because additional inspections require more time and money.

When I first started inspecting, I was told by a home inspection instructor that this was the best way to write a report. As I’ve written more and more reports over the years, I’ve come to realize that home inspection schools teach this style only to protect the inspector. This doesn’t provide a service for the client.  A good home inspection report will clearly state the problem, explain the significance of the problem if it’s not obvious, and will give a recommended course of action.

Why You Need to Know How to Find & Choose a Home Inspector

Choose carefully. The right home inspector can save you from buying a money pit. And that’s just one reason you need to know how to choose a home inspector. Find out more below.

Of all the various professionals involved in the homebuying process, probably the most underrated is the home inspector. As the buyer of a home filled with unknowns, a qualified home inspector can be your best friend. He or she can highlight any significant flaws in the property and give you an opportunity to have them repaired before closing.

What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Do?

A home inspector’s job is to determine the integrity of a home, and its various components. In inspecting a home, they’re looking to determine its safety, livability, and the utility of its systems. A qualified home inspector will do a thorough inspection of the home

Why You Shouldn’t Take the First Referral or One Referred by Your Realtor

If you’re working with a real estate agent, he or she will be anxious to provide a home inspector. There’s a reason why this is true; some real estate agents prefer home inspectors who don’t make a habit of reporting conditions that will “kill” their deal. That kind of inspector will be good for the real estate agent, but not for you as the homebuyer.

Credentials You Should Look For

Unfortunately, home inspection is something of an open field. People from different backgrounds consider themselves to be home inspectors. It could be a carpenter, a former real estate agent, or even an appraiser who does home inspection on the side. None of these backgrounds indicate the person is qualified as a full-service home inspector.

Water Testing Kits And Indoor Air Test Kits

Types of Water Testing Methods

There are a wide range of water quality tests used to help determine how safe, or even drinkable, water is to be used in a household setting or otherwise that water test labs perform. These different types of tests help determine if specific materials of contaminants have infected a body of water, and help inform how it needs to be further treated. Here are just a few types of water testing methods.

Bacteria Tests

There are a range of potential bacterial contaminants that can plague water. One of the most common and most looked for is E. coli bacteria, which comes from fecal matter exposure and can result in serious health issues when consumed. Bacteria testing is essential in determining how safe water is to drink or expose to your skin.

Mineral Tests

The list of mineral testing available could be a thesis paper, for how many there are. A few common and important mineral tests include chlorine and chloride, nitrate and nitrite, lead, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, and sodium. This wide range of mineral testing is essential and relevant in determining water quality, as different regions or areas of terrain may have more of a buildup of certain types of minerals, which informs what kind of mineral treatments the water actually needs in order to be purified.

pH Testing

What is pH? If middle school science class feels like an age and a day behind you, here’s a quick reminder. pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The more of these hydrogen ions there are in a solution, the more acidic that water is. Acidity effects taste of water, but it can also affect how health water is to consume. Drinking water that’s not neutral enough in acidity can make people sick!

Other Types of Testing

There are some basic water tests that don’t have anything to do with chemical testing: conductivity, odor, sediment, and turbidity. Not relevant in all situations, these tests create a measure of the more physical traits of a water sample. Is it clear, or clouded with sand and silt? Does it smell swampy, or fresh? How well does it convey electricity—and what does that say about the mineral content?

chemical test of drinking water

pH Testing Procedure

1. Rinse each test tube with the water sample. Gloves should be worn to avoid skin contact with the water.

2. Fill the tube to the 5mL line with sample water.

3. While holding a dropper bottle vertically, add 10 drops of Wide Range Indicator Solution.

4. Cap and invert several times to mix.

5. Insert the tube into the Wide Range pH Comparator. Hold the comparator up to a light source. Match the sample color to a color standard.

6. Record the pH value.

7. Wash your hands

Test formats

Typical low-tech, portable, field test methods for chemical water quality monitoring fall into three categories:

  • Test strips – These are small, single-use strips that change color to indicate the concentration of a specific chemical. Depending on the particular test, the user “activates” the paper or plastic strip by dipping it into the water sample and swishing it around, or by holding the strip in a stream of water. After waiting for a short time, the user compares the test strip color with a color chart to read the concentration of the chemical. These kits are extremely simple, but they are less accurate than other methods, especially if users don’t follow the instructions.
  • Color disk kits – Color disk test kits are available for a wide range of chemical tests.  In a typical set-up, the user adds a powder packet or a few drops of a liquid reagent to a water sample in a reusable plastic tube.  The user then places the sample tube in a small plastic viewing box.  This viewing box contains a plastic disk with a color gradient printed on it.  The user rotates the color disk to find the part that best matches the color of the sample, and then reads the concentration of the chemical from the disk.  Color disk kits typically have multiple steps and often include prescribed wait times, so they’re a little more complicated and costly, but generally more accurate.
  • Hand-held digital instruments – Lightweight and portable digital meters, colorimeters, and photometers are available for water testing.  They provide the most accurate results of these three testing methods, but they are also more expensive and delicate than the previous options.  These instruments require batteries and calibration.

Ecosystem health indicators

Aquatic ecosystem health indicators can be broadly divided into four categories:

Physico-chemical indicators

Physico-chemical indicators are the traditional ‘water quality’ indicators that most people are familiar with. They include dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). They also include measures of toxicants such as insecticides, herbicides and metals. Physico-chemical indicators provide information on what is impacting on the system. For example, is it an organic waste that affects dissolved oxygen, or is it some type of toxicant? Although physico-chemical indicators can identify the cause of the problem, they only provide limited information on the extent that pollutants are actually impacting on fauna and flora. To assess this, we need to assess the biological indicators.

Biological indicators

Biological indicators are direct measures of the health of the fauna and flora in the waterway. Commonly used biological indicators in freshwater include various measures of macroinvertebrate or fish diversity, benthic algal growth and benthic oxygen demand. For estuaries, biological indicators are less developed. The only commonly used biological indicator in estuaries is chlorophyll-a, which is a measure of phytoplankton population density. In coastal embayments, indicators such as seagrass condition or condition of fringing coral reefs are sometimes used.

In many aquatic ecosystems, the key influences on aquatic ecosystem health can be factors other than water quality, including habitat degradation and changes to natural flow patterns. Therefore, it is important to include indicators of these factors in monitoring programs.

Habitat indicators

Habitat indicators include both fringing (riparian) habitat and instream habitats. Indicators of riparian habitat include the width, continuity, extent of shading and species composition. Indicators of instream habitat include measures of the extent of scouring and bank erosion and the presence of woody debris (fallen trees, etc) that provide important habitat for many species.

Flow indicators

In freshwater, changes to flow are often the main cause of aquatic ecosystem health degradation; the Murray-Darling system is an example of this. Assessing the changes is therefore important. Changes to natural flow caused by humans are varied and include changes to peak flows, base flows, no flow periods and seasonality of flows. To assess these different changes, a number of indicators are required. Unfortunately, nearly all of these indicators rely on the existence of good flow data for both current and pre-disturbance conditions. This type of data is often not available. In this situation, less precise indicators of flow change can be sourced from assessments of the amount of flow captured in storages or abstracted for agricultural or urban use. 

Sample collection bottles and materials

Before collecting samples, make sure you have all the proper bottles, field equipment and preservatives, such as ice. There is nothing worse than being unprepared in the field, so plan ahead as much as possible. It’s best to obtain sampling bottles from the lab running the analysis, as some bottle sizes and preservatives used can differ slightly.

The methods that will be flowed will determine the type of bottles used. For example, samples for metals’ analyses are usually collected in plastic bottles, while analyses for volatile organics and pesticides are collected in glass containers. Bottles used to collect samples for bacteria should be sterilized. The size of the container is important to ensure you have enough sample to run the analysis needed. Container size may also be affected by regulation, as larger samples may be needed to obtain lower detection levels.

Certain analysis like volatile organics and radon require vials that are to be filled leaving no head space, which keeps these analytes dissolved in the water, preventing them from escaping into the air. Additionally, some analyses require samples to be collected in amber colored bottles. These darker bottles are for analytes that break-down in sunlight, which helps keep these contaminants from breaking down while in transit to the laboratory for analysis.