When recently discussing hydrogen sulfide in water, commonly referred to as ‘that nasty rotten egg smell’, we mentioned that in some cases sulfates served as the source for of the gas — usually through some sort of chemical reduction or breakdown of the sulfates.
While it may not sound like something that occurs naturally in drinking water, it most certainly does. Many different reasons exist for why or how sulfate gets into water supplies and the United States Environmental Protection Agency has set the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) for sulfate in drinking water at 250 milligrams per liter (mg/L or ppm).
For those who do not know, the SMCL’s pertain to aesthetic qualities and characteristics of water such as taste and odor, not matters pertaining to health issues. The Federal Government does not enforce SMCL’s but it does provide them as suggested guidelines which it does encourage public water systems to follow.
In recent times, however, some health officials have taken a keen interest in sulfate contamination because of growing suspicions that if ingested in high quantities it can cause diarrhea. Apparently some segments of the world’s population experience bouts of diarrhea when they suddenly start ingesting water that has high sulfate concentrations after residing in areas with much lower sulfate in water concentrations.
How many water systems exceed the EPA’s SMCL for sulfate in drinking water? In an article on the EPA’s EPA’s website, experts estimated that roughly 3% of the public drinking water systems in the United States may have sulfate levels at or above 250 mg/L.
Can the general public test for sulfates in drinking water?
As a matter of fact, yes they can. SenSafe manufactures an easy-to-use, fast and reliable test strip that works quite well for field testing of well water, ground water and surface water. You can find SenSafe’s Sulfate Check product in both the COMPLETE Water Quality Test Kit and the Water Quality Test Kit in our Water Test Kit Store.
Prefer to use a meter for your testing needs? The eXact Micro 7+ Water Testing Meter has the ability to perform that test when used with the correct reagentstrip.