Drinking Water Tests

Fitz Scientific laboratory offers accredited testing for drinking water meeting the strict requirements of ISO 17025. This means you can rely on the results to be provided with a great level of accuracy and the assurance that they have been quality checked in line with International Standards. Our laboratory scientists use advanced instrumentation to provide results up to 5 times more accurate than home water testing kits purchased off the shelf.

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Common Drinking Water Tests

Aluminium –  is a significant element in the earth’s crust and is therefore widespread in the natural environment. A level greater than 200 µg/l can cause turbid and discoloured water. There is no conclusive evidence on the health effects although it is known to have a tendency to accumulate in the brain and bones.

Ammonia – is found naturally in groundwater however generally it is in low concentrations as it absorbs to soil particles and clays and is not easily leached. Ammonia may have public health connotation associated with it. Ammonia is an indicator of recent contamination, typically septic tank discharges, and agricultural waste.

Coliforms (Total) – this is a measure of the presence of bacteria which may be harmful to humans and as such bacteria from this group should not be present in drinking water. Their presence is due to sources of contamination, usually septic tanks in close proximity to the well, or run off from farming activity or storage/spreading of silage effluent or slurry. Coliforms can cause serious health risks.

Colour (Apparent) – Colour in water may result from the presence of neutral metallic ions (iron and manganese), humus and peat materials, plankton, weeds and industrial wastes. Colour is removed to make water suitable for domestic and industrial applications.

Conductivity – is a measure of the total amount of ions in a particular water supply and is also a measure of the waters ability to carry an electrical current. The conductivity of potable waters ranges generally from 50 – 1650 μScm-1 and samples which exceed this higher value indicate some form of contamination.

E Coli – E Coli belongs to the faecal coliform group of bacteria. Potable water systems can become polluted with coliform bacteria from normal, diseased or carrier human and animal excrements. This can occur by gross connections between a water main and a sewer or from the entry of sewage water through leaks in damaged pipes.

Iron (Total) – is found naturally in groundwater and has no major health
connotations but is of concern as a nuisance parameter causing problems with staining of laundry and tableware.

Nitrite – Nitrite has health connotations with it and is the actual etiological agent of methemoglobinemia (or more commonly known as blue baby syndrome). Nitrite is an indicator or recent contamination.

pH – pH below 7 is acidic in nature while pH above 7 is basic. Most natural waters in Ireland are slightly basic in nature due to the presence of carbonates and bicarbonates of the alkali and alkaline earth metals. pH has no real health connotations associated with it except in extreme cases.

Hardness (Total) – Total hardness is defined as the sum of the calcium and magnesium concentrations. Hardness may range from zero to hundreds of mg/l depending on the source of the treatment to which the water has been subjected. Hardness can be treated with a filtration system.

Turbidity – Clarity of water is important in producing products destined for human consumption and in many manufacturing operations. The clarity of a natural body of water is on important determinant of its condition and productivity. Suspended and
colloidal matter such as clay, silt, microscopic organisms etc. cause turbidity in water.

TBC @ 22˚C – Also known as Colony Count, this is where a count is made of bacteria after they have been incubated in water heated to 22°C for a fixed period. This bacteria is aerobic and is not related to faecal contamination. The objective of water treatment systems should be to ensure that bacteriological colonies are kept as low as possible.

Manganese – This is widely found in soils and ground waters. Manganese, like iron, is of concern as a nuisance parameter causing problems with staining but with this metal the problems can be more severe hence the more stringent limit. The presence of manganese much above the limit can also cause an unacceptable taste.

Lead – Lead is one of the most commonly determined heavy metals because it accumulates in body tissue. It follows that strict limits on its presence in raw and finished drinking waters must be imposed. Particular attention is paid to this element as in many older houses extensive use is made of lead piping and there is a danger of lead being brought into solution ("plumbosolvency"). Levels may be quite marked in samples taken first thing in the morning when the initial yield will be of water which has been standing in such pipes for perhaps twelve hours. Hence the recommendation that drinking water pipes be flushed briefly in the morning before the water is consumed.

Copper – is not particularly toxic to humans (indeed, it is an essential dietary requirement) and medicinal doses up to 20 mg/l are not unknown. However, astringent tastes in water can be caused by levels above 1 mg/l. This element is present naturally in metalliferous areas but more often its presence in waters is due to attack on copper piping. Rarely, its occurrence may be due to its use as an algicide. Unless used with great care for algal control there is a grave risk of fish kills.

Nitrate – Hazard to infants above 11 mg/l N [50 mg/l NO3]. Relatively little of the nitrate found in natural waters is of mineral origin, most coming from organic and inorganic sources, the former including waste discharges and the latter comprising chiefly artificial fertilisers. However, bacterial oxidation and fixing of nitrogen by plants can both produce nitrate. Interest is centred on nitrate concentrations for various reasons. Most importantly, high nitrate levels in waters to be used for drinking will render them hazardous to infants as they induce the "blue baby" syndrome (methaemoglobinaemia). The nitrate itself is not a direct toxicant but is a health hazard because of its conversion to nitrite which reacts with blood
haemoglobin to cause methaemoglobinaemia.

Key Features:

  • UKAS Accredited
  • Fast Turnaround Available
  • Next Day Sample Bottle Delivery
  • Irish Water Approved
  • Laboratory tests

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