SimpleWater Tap Score

7 Metals Everyone Should Test For

Certain contaminants are more common in US drinking water than others.

This is our short list of the most prevalent and potentially dangerous metals which we find in urban and rural drinking water. Pipes fail, homes age, water supplies worsen -- American families ought to test their water at least once every 3 to 5 years.

Even if you are confident that you don’t have other possible contamination issues, here are 7 metals that deserve your attention. Accumulating over time in your mind and body, these chronic contaminants can cause a wide range of health problems, especially for the brain and nervous system.

Tap Score, powered by SimpleWater, offers a water test designed explicitly for testing these (and a few other) important US water contaminants. Learn more here, if you’re interested in investigating your own water.

MANGANESE

Manganese in Tap Water

What is it?

A naturally occurring metal used in steel and corrosion-resistant aluminum alloys. Manganese is also an additive in unleaded gasoline, pigment, plumbing materials, battery cells, matches, fireworks, fertilizer; reagent in organic chemistry, oxidizing agent; component of tobacco smoke.

Why we care

Exposure to high concentrations of manganese over many years has been associated with toxicity to the nervous system.

When to be suspicious

You may notice a metallic taste and brownish-red color above 50 PPB. Also manganese can stain fixtures and clothing.

LEAD

Lead in Tap Water

What is it?

Lead is a heavy metal that most often enters your water by corrosion of household plumbing systems,from the erosion of natural deposits nearby and by industrial activity.

Why we care

US EPA enforces a 15 PPB limit on lead in drinking water, but no amount of lead is considered safe. It accumulates in your body and has multiple toxic effects on your brain, liver, kidney and bones. Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, in particular, to damage affecting the brain and nervous system.

When to be suspicious

You cannot see, taste or smell lead in your drinking water. You can check the US water contamination map for lead in your neighborhood.

ARSENIC

Arsenic In Tap Water

What is it?

Arsenic is a common element in the earth's crust and unfortunately, quite toxic to humans. Natural erosion of arsenic from the soil and rock is the most common pathway for arsenic to get into your drinking water. It is also produced as waste runoff from orchards, metals production and electronics production wastes.

Why we care

Short term effects of arsenic exposure include skin discoloration, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Long term effects include heart, lung, liver, immune, nervous system and reproductive disorders, diabetes and cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, liver and prostate.

When to be suspicious

You cannot see, taste or smell arsenic in your drinking water. You can check the US water contamination map for arsenic in your neighborhood.

CHROMIUM

Chromium In Tap Water

What is it?

Most common sources of chromium are erosion from natural deposits as well as nearby mining waste and waste from electroplating and pigment factories.

Why we care

Chromium is a potent human carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancers. It affects the human liver and kidney and is known to cause circulatory disorders as well as nerve damage

When to be suspicious

Erin Brockovich is in your local newspaper or you check the US water contamination map for chromium in your neighborhood.

COPPER

Copper In Tap Water

What is it?

Corrosion of pipes, faucets and other plumbing fixtures is the most common source of copper in American homes. Running your water for a minute before drinking can reduce copper buildup at your tap.

Why we care

Copper is an essential element for your health. However, too much of it especially among young children can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Copper has also been associated with liver and kidney disease. The State of California suggests a safe level of 0.3 PPM and the US EPA suggests 1.3 PPM.

When to be suspicious

Above 1 PPM, copper can cause a distasteful metallic flavor in your water and leave a blue-green staining on fixtures.

NICKEL

Nickel In Tap Water

What is it?

Nickel is a naturally occurring element and is most often exposed to drinking water during mining and smelting activities.

Why we care

Nickel can be a potent human carcinogen at high doses, in lower doses it can lead to decreased lung function and allergic reaction. About 10-20% of the US population is sensitive to nickel.

When to be suspicious

You cannot see, taste or smell arsenic in your drinking water. You can check the US water contamination map for nickel in your neighborhood.

ALUMINUM

Aluminum In Tap Water

What is it?

Aluminum can come into contact with drinking water sources from natural formations underground or after use as a water treatment coagulant and additive. It may also be released by metal refineries and mining operations.

Why we care

Aluminum is a known nervous system toxicant with possible links to Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

When to be suspicious

The only way to be sure whether you have aluminum in your water is to perform a test. You cannot see, taste or smell aluminum in your drinking water. You can check the US water contamination map for it though, aluminum findings in your neighborhood.