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Iron
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Arsenic
pH
Sulfur
Radon
Bacteria
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AGENT
ACCEPTABLE or SAFE LIMITS
SOURCES EFFECTS
Total coliform bacteria Less than 1/100 ml Bacteria usually from
environment such as soil,
vegetation, etc.
May cause diarrhea & vomiting
E.coli bacteria Less than 1/100 ml Also known as enterococci,
typically from feces
May cause diarrhea & vomiting
Nitrate-N Less than 10 mg/L Runoff from fertilizer use,
leaching from septic tanks,
sewage, erosion of natural
deposits
May cause infant blood problems
Nitrite-N Less than 1 mg/L Runoff from fertilizer use,
leaching from septic tanks,
sewage, erosion of natural
deposits
May cause infant blood problems
pH 6.5-8.5 Measures the acidity or alkalinity,
pH scale ranges from 0-14 with 7 being neutral

Below 7 is considered acidic
and above 7 is considered alkaline

Naturally rain water is 5.5 on the pH scale

Most water in Maine is below 7 on the pH scale

Strongly acidic or alkaline water is corrosive
and can dissolve toxic materials from plumbing
(such as copper piping or lead soldering on piping)
that can cause health concerns

Acidic water dissolves copper leaving a tell-tale
blue or green staining on fixtures

Corrosive nature can lead to costly repair
or replacement of plumbing system

Acidic and alkaline water can have an adverse
effect on water treatment systems
Turbidity Less than 5 NTU Small particles of solid matter,
possibly from soil runoff
Water can appear opaque or cloudy

Sand or lead shavings could be in your water

May cause plumbing, hot water tanks, etc. to plug up
Copper Less than 1.3 mg/L Natural deposits or corrosion
of household plumbing
Short term exposure: Gastrointestinal distress

Long term exposure: liver or kidney damage
Iron Less than 0.3 mg/L Natural deposits

Over 25% of Earth’s crust is iron,
so it is naturally one of most common
reasons for water treatment

Iron manifests itself in two forms:
Ferric Iron (suspended solid, visible in water)
and Ferrous Iron (dissolved solid, colorless
until exposed to air)
Water may appear colored, ranging from
light yellow to bright orange

Stains fixtures and/or clothes

Can impart unpleasant taste, often bitter
or metallic in taste

Will build up in plumbing, sometimes to
the point of completely blocking pipes
Manganese Less than 0.05 mg/L Natural deposits Black or brown staining of fixtures

Perhaps black-brown string or yarn-like
substance in toilet tanks

Can impart unpleasant taste, often bitter or
metallic in taste

Higher levels have been linked to impulse
control & short fuse response in children
Hardness Based on the amount of dissolved calcium
and magnesium present in water
Can create scales in cold water piping

Heated hard water can build up in water heaters,
boilers, and other appliances; and can boosts heating
bills by as much as 20%

Unsightly film or scum in tub & other fixtures; usage
of more soap is required to clean;

Build up on skin & hair; can cause dry skin, brittle hair,
skin irritation & clogged pores

Graying of whites or loss of brightness in colored laundry;
can cut back life cycle of clothing by 35%

Calcium & Magnesium will be absorbed by foods cooked
in water & foods are more likely to shrink & become tough
Chloride None per State of Maine

250 mg/L per National Secondary
Drinking Water Regulations
recommendation
Possible salt intrusion from sea water or
naturally occurring deposits in bedrock
Salty taste

Well close to road and salts from plowing roads
leaching into well water
Arsenic Less than 10 ug/L Natural deposits or from manufacturing
or herbicides
May cause cancer/low birth weight

May cause bladder, lung, skin, kidney,
nasal passage, liver and prostate cancer

Recent studies in school-age children have
reported association between neurological
behavior functions and exposure to arsenic
via drinking water
Lead Less than 15 ug/L Corrosion of household plumbing or solder,
erosion of natural deposits, brass alloy fixtures
May cause brain damage

Delay in physical or mental development in children

May cause high blood pressure, kidney problems in adults
Sodium Less than 120 mg/L Metallic element naturally found
and highly soluble
Possible salt intrusion from sea water or naturally
occurring deposits in bedrock

Salt runoff from plowing roads may be leaching
into well water (if well is close to road)
Uranium Less than 30 ug/L Natural deposits May cause kidney problems

May effect kidneys & blood pressure

Cancer risk is raised

Test for radon if uranium is present
Radon Less than 4000 pCi/L Natural deposits

Radon is a gas
May cause cancer

Radon Gas causes lung cancer and
is linked to stomach, liver and brain cancer

Chemically damages your DNA

In Maine about 25% of lung cancer deaths
have been linked to homes with radon gas
in the well water

Up to 1/3 of all wells in Maine have radon gas
of over 4000 pCi/L

10,000 pCi/L of radon gas in water
= 1 pCi/L in air

Tannins None Comes from vegetation As little as .02 and will notice tea colored water

Causes staining and/or build up on fixtures
& in plumbing

Fluoride Between 0.6 mg/L and 1.7 mg/L Natural deposits If too little, increased chance of tooth decay
and if too much, stained teeth
Sulfur None Hydrogen sulfide gas Water will smell like rotten eggs

Odor will be evident at levels as low as 0.5 mg/L
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