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What Are Common Contaminants in Drinking Water?

Tap WaterContaminants can get in drinking water from all different kinds of sources. Many of which are from industrial processes, metal corrosion, and chemicals, such as preservatives and disinfectants.

Most contaminants can be removed from drinking water through reverse osmosis. This is a process of passing water under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane to remove the majority of contaminants. This is the most common process of filtering water. Kinetico’s K5 drinking water station, a reverse osmosis system with flex filtration, is certified to remove more contaminants than any other reverse osmosis system on the market.

For any contaminants that cannot be removed through reverse osmosis, or to further combat a specific contaminant, up to 5 filters can be added to the K5. Contact us to learn more.

ContaminantSourceHealth Effect
AluminumRock and Soil LeachingHigh risk for dialysis patients
ArsenicCoal Power PlantsPetroleum Production

Natural & Industrial Deposit Leaching

Wood Preservatives


Severe skin problemsDisruption to endocrine system Cancer (skin, bladder, lung, kidney, liver, prostate)

Cardiovascular & nervous system damage

BariumMineral DepositsDrilling Waste Disposal

Copper Smelting

Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing

Breathing problemsIncreased blood pressure

Changes in heart rhythm

Stomach irritation

Brain swelling

Muscle weakness

Damage to liver, kidney, heart & spleen

CadmiumGalvanized Pipe CorrosionNatural Deposit Erosion

Metal Refinery Discharge

Waste Battery & Paint runoff

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, sensory disturbances, liver injury, shock & renal failureLong term: kidney, liver, bone & blood damage
ChloramineMunicipal TreatmentWhen present in dialysis water, can cause hemolytic anemia
ChromiumTrivalent chromium is naturally occurringHexavalent chromium is a byproduct of some chemical processesNausea, gastrointestinal distress, stomach ulcers, skin ulcers & allergic reactionsKidney & liver damage

Reproductive problems

Pulmonary & nasal cancers

CopperIndustrial DischargesCopper salts for reservoir algae control

Copper Plumbing Corrosion

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal illness & abdominal & muscle painAnemia, liver poisoning & kidney failure
FluorideNatural DepositsTreated Municipal WaterLong term consumption can cause:Skeletal fluorosis (extremely dense & hard bones that are abnormally fragile)

Disfiguration, pitting & mottling (discoloration) of teeth in children less than 9 years old

LeadMostly Lead Service LinesLead Containing Solder

Brass Fittings

Industrial Processes



Lower intelligenceHearing impairment

Growth impediment

Damage to brain, kidneys, bone marrow, nervous system & red blood cells

Nitrates/NitritesHuman SewageLivestock ManureMethemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome)
MercurySport FishNatural De-Gassing of Earth’s Crust

Fossil Fuel Combustion

Mercurous & Mercuric Salts (from skin & antiseptic creams, ointments)

Kidney damage

Rocket Propellants

Naturally occurring in low levels

Hinders absorption of iodine by thyroid glands, leading to developmental and learning disabilities in children.
RadiumRadioactive decay of uranium & thorium in rocks & soilIncreased risk of cancer
SeleniumNatural DepositsCopper SmeltingHair and fingernail changesFatigue and irritability

Damage to peripheral nervous system

SilverPrimarily from use as a bacteriostat in water treatment devicesNaturally occurring in soil as insoluble silver chloride and silver sulfideArgyria (discoloration of skin, hair & organs)
UraniumNaturally Occurring MineralIncreased risk of cancerKidney toxicity