Determining If there Is Mercury in Your Water Supply

February 19th, 2014

This element isn’t good if it is found in your drinking water!


Image via Mrs. Pugliano (Flickr)

Determining if There Is Mercury in Your Water Supply

If you love seafood, you probably already know about the concern over mercury in water. The FDA has advised pregnant and nursing women in particular to cut down on their seafood consumption because of mercury pollution in water. Mercury is a liquid metal, and it is found in many natural elements. Unfortunately, mercury is not safe for consumption, and too much mercury can cause kidney failure. Mercury in drinking water supplies is definitely something you should concern yourself with, and there are ways to determine if mercury is in the water coming into your home.

Mercury in the Water Supply

Mercury is a natural element found in the earth’s crust, particularly in rocks such as coal. Mercury makes its way into our air when coal is burned. In fact, according to the EPA, coal-fueled power plants account for the largest emissions of mercury released into our environment. When that mercury settles out of the air and onto the ground, it is washed into our water supply.

How Mercury Infiltrates our Water Supply

Aside from mercury emissions into the air, other ways mercury finds its way into our water supplies include the erosion by water of natural mercury deposits and landfill and agricultural runoff. We can’t help it when natural erosion produces mercury in water, but we can help it when the mercury in drinking water supplies is caused by pollutants, and we should take action.

Side Effects of Mercury Poisoning

Aside from kidney failure, long-term exposure to mercury pollution in water can also cause neurological disorders in the brain, heart trouble, lung damage and damage to your immune system. Mercury introduced to an unborn child through its mother’s bloodstream might cause the child to suffer from nervous system damage. Mercury can also attack the nervous systems of young children. Mercury pollution in water is a serious danger and something about which we should all be concerned.

What You Can Do

To ensure your drinking is free from high levels of mercury, it is important to properly test the levels of mercury in water coming from your home’s water taps. Your water municipality or water well supplier is already testing for mercury in drinking water to ensure that the level complies with the EPA’s maximum contaminant level restrictions. If you contact them, they will provide you with copies of their latest test results.

You, too, can test for mercury in your water by purchasing a home testing kit. These kits generally contain testing strips on which you place a drop of tap water. The strips are treated with a special organic compound that interacts with mercury and changes color. You simply compare the color of the strip to a chart provided with your testing kit to determine the approximate level of mercury in your water supply.

Aside from testing, you should also filter your water with a water filter designed to remove excess mercury compounds. These filters will not only remove mercury and other heavy metals from your drinking water supply, but they will also remove inorganic compounds, bacteria, protozoa, viral agents, and volatile organic compounds. That’s a lot to worry about, but a good filter will remove them all and give you the peace of mind that your family is drinking water that is free from harmful mercury and all the other “baddies” out there polluting our water!


Written By: Lynn Taylor


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