"Standing Guard for Your Water"

Guide to Water Quality

Contaminant Effect / Symptoms Origin or Contaminant Treatment or Removal Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (mg/L)
Ontario Canada* WHO**
Biological Parameters
Total Coliforms
  • -Gastric Symptoms
  • -Indication of pollution from organic sources
Dead, decaying matter (plant material, leaves, etc.)
  • -Chlorination
  • -Ozonization
  • -Distillation
  • -UV light
none detectable / 100 mL no limit listed
Fecal Coliforms
  • -Diarrhea
  • -Gastroenteritis
Human or animal fecal pollution
  • -Chlorination
  • -Ozonization
  • -Distillation
  • -UV light
Parasites - eg. Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasmosis, Giardia lamblia ("beaver fever")
  • -Diarrhea
  • -Gastroenteritis
  • -Long term health effects
Spread by mammals when fecal matter is carried into the water source
  • -BioSand Filters
  • -Distillation
  • -UV light
  • -Reverse Osmosis
  • -Ozone
none detectable/ 100mL no limit listed
Viruses - eg. Hepatitis A, Norwalk-type viruses, Rotaviruses, Adenoviruses, Enteroviruses
  • -Diarrhea
  • -Gastroenteritis
  • -Long term health effects
  • -Livestock
  • -Manure storage
  • -Sewage sludge
  • -Wastewater disposal systems
  • -Litter and domestic pet feces
  • -Landfill
  • -Oxidation ponds
  • -Raw sewage
  • -Distillation
  • -UV light
  • -Reverse Osmosis
  • -Ozone
  • -BioSand Filters
no limit listed no limit listed
Heterotrophic Plate Count
  • -Indicator of water quality and overall pollution
Soil, air, plant material
  • -Chlorination
  • -Ozonization
  • -Distillation
  • -UV light
- -
Physical Characteristics
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
  • -Aesthetic objective
Any water soluble compound, usually ionized salts
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
Less than 500 no limit listed
Colour - Tannins
  • -Aesthetic objective
  • -Discoloured water
  • -Staining of filters
Suspended and dissolved organic and inorganic particulates form natural decay & human waste
  • -Flocculation
  • -Multi-Media
  • -BioSand Filters
Less than 16 Total Colour Units no limit listed
Turbidity
  • -Aesthetic objective
Suspended organic and inorganic particulates. Principally consisting of clay, colloids, plankton and other microorganisms - cloudy water
  • -Sediment filters
  • -Multimedia Filter
  • -BioSand Filters
Less than 1.0 Normal Turbidity Units at point of consumption -
Hardness
  • -Palatability and gastrointestinal irritation
  • -Scale, scum, spotting, or soap curd
Calcium and magnesium concentrations expressed as calcium carbonate. May also include Mn and Fe
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
  • -Water softeners
75 - 150 no limit listed
pH
  • -Palatability and gastrointestinal irritation
Measure of hydrogen ion activity, indicating alkalinity or acidity (acid or base)
  • -pH adjustment by chemical addition
6.5 - 8.5 no limit listed
Hydrogen Sulfide
  • -Rotten egg odour
  • -Staining
-
  • -Aeration
  • -Chlorination
  • -Manganese Greensand Filter
  • -BioSand Filter
- -
Major Anions
Nitrogen (nitrate, nitrite)
  • -High NO3 levels may cause methemoglobinemia in infants (Blue Baby Syndrome)
Decaying organic matter, fertilizer run-off. Occasionally present in sub-surface geologic formations
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
Nitrite is 1
Nitrate is 10
-
Sulphur (sulphate, sulphide)
  • -Aesthetic objective
  • -Palatability and odour
  • -May also generate hydrogen sulphide at higher concentrations
Acid mine drainage, volcanic activity, and geologic formation
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
  • -BioSand Filters
500 for sulphate
0.05 for sulphide
-
Fluoride
  • -Palatability
  • -Concentrations greater than 1.5 ppm may cause black mottling and/or white mottling of teeth in children
Naturally present in water but increased by human use/waste
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
1.5 1.5
Chloride
  • -Aesthetic objective
Naturally present in water as NaCl, KCl, CaCl2
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
250 no limited listed
Chlorine, THMs
  • -Bad taste and odour
  • -Linked to some cancers
Used in municipal water systems to disinfect drinking water - THMs are formed when residual chlorine in treated water reacts with organic material
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
  • -Activated Carbon Filter
THMs 0.1 THMs 1
Cations/Metals/Minerals
Aluminum (Al)
  • -Suspect in neurological disorders
Third most abundant element; used in alloys and as a flocculating agent
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.1 no limit listed
Arsenic (As)
  • -Toxic in its trivalent inorganic form
  • -Causes immunological and neurological disorders
Exists in tri and pentavalent forms. Used in mining. Trace levels occur in animal feed additives and fertilizers
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.025 0.01
Barium (Ba)
  • -Toxic if ingested
Primarily found in steel industry effluent
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
1.0 0.7
Cadmium (Cd)
  • -Toxic, known to cause skeletal disorders, high blood pressure, liver, kidney and lung disease
Used in paints, plastics, batteries, and electroplating
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.005 0.003
Chromium (Cr)
  • -Toxic, especially in its hexavalent form
Used extensively in many industrial processes
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.050 0.05
Copper (Cu)
  • -Aesthetic objective
  • -Toxic at elevated levels
Essential dietary mineral used extensively for a multitude of industrial and electronic products
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
1 2
Iron (Fe)
  • -Aesthetic objective; mainly affecting palatability
  • -Causes reddish brown brown staining fixtures, clothes; bad taste and odor
Essential dietary mineral used extensively for a multitude of industrial products. Often found with hard water.
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
  • -BioSand Filters
  • -Greensand
  • -Chemical Free Filtration
0.3 no limit listed
Lead (Pb)
  • -Toxic
  • -Causes neurological disorders and complications in pregnancy
Used extensively in soldering, batteries, alloys, paints, etc.
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.010 0.001
Manganese (Mn)
  • -Aesthetic objective
  • -Staining
Essential dietary mineral; often found with hard water
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
  • -BioSand Filters
  • -Greensand
  • -Chemical Free Filtration
0.050 0.4
Sodium (Na)
  • -Aesthetic objective
  • -Elevated levels related to hypertension and congestive heart failure
High levels found in both natural and waste waters
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
200 no limit listed
Uranium (U)
  • -Palatability effects and can cause kidney damage
Normally present in biological systems as the uranyl cation
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
0.1 0.009
Zinc (Zn)
  • -Aesthetic objective; affects palatability
Essential dietary element used in plastics, ceramics, wood preservative, dyes and paints
  • -Reverse osmosis
  • -Distillation
5.00 no limit listed
Organic Compounds
Pesticides / Herbicides
  • - Palatability and odour effects: several of the organic compounds listed are considered to be carcinogenic and many are still under toxicological study
Agricultural use of thousands of synthetic pesticides / herbicides THMs:
  • -Carbon filtration
  • -Reverse Osmosis
  • -Distillation
Different methods of treatment are available for different contaminants. Please contact us for more details.
 
PCBs Old electrical transformers
Phenols Chlorinated & non chlorinated phenols are used in wood preservatives, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and cleaning agents
Volatile organic compounds - ie. BTEX, chlorinated hydrocarbons and solvents BTEX - Industrial effluents, waste, atmospheric emissions from fossil fuels

Chlorinated hydrocarbons and solvents - cleaning agents/detergents, pesticides, plastics, pharmaceuticals
PAHs Low combustion burning and petroleum spills
Dioxins Unavoidable by-products created during manufacturing of many chemicals or as a result of incomplete combustion of compounds containing organic chlorine and bleaching processes in the pulp/paper industry
Trihalomethanes (THMs) Formed when residual chlorine in treated water reacts with organic material

For the Safety of Your Clientele and Families

Ontario logo

Ontario Ministry of Environment

Compliance with MOE Regulation 170/03

Scott M. Gillespie
44 Ellenson Drive
Brantford, Ontario
N3R 3E5
Phone: 519-802-5561
Fax: 519-754-4052

Member of the Canadian Water Quality Association