We often tell people that heavy metals in water can cause health problems if not removed from drinking water. Today we would like to give a brief explanation of WHY you should monitor levels of heavy metals in your water and reduce/remove them if the levels exceed safety limits set by the EPA.
Heavy metal poisoning...
It sounds like something older folks say younger people get while listening to Slayer, Megadeth and other heavy metal bands, but it actually deals with what happens to the human body when exposed to higher than normal levels of metals like copper, manganese, cadmium, zinc, thallium, mercury, arsenic, gold, silver, iron, lead, etc.
Heavy metals poisoning occurs when toxic levels of metals accumulate in the body's soft tissue. A number of heavy metals such as zinc, copper, chromium, iron and manganese play critical roles in keeping the body functioning properly BUT if ingested in high enough quantities those previously beneficial metals become toxins in the body and may cause serious, sometimes irreversible damage... which may culminate in serious illness or death.
Most often incidents of heavy metal poisoning in humans result from overexposure to metals like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. Exposure may have happened as a result of on-the-job exposure, accidental ingesting of contaminated water and/or air, tainted foods, improperly prepared medicines, food and beverage container liners, and the ever popular hobby of eating lead paint chips.
How much metal is TOO much metal in my drinking water?
It varies by contaminant and for more specific information on this topic we suggest checking out the EPA's Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Standards. Those lists break down contaminants into two categories: 1) Potentially damaging to health; 2) Potentially damaging for aesthetic (taste, odor, discoloration, etc.) reasons.
Removal of metals from drinking water
Before purchasing a water quality improvement system (AKA: a water filter) one should always have their water tested either using at-home water quality test kits or by a certified water testing laboratory. Companies such as National Testing Laboratories offer mail-in water testing packages and typically provide results in 7 to 10 business days.
Total Copper in Water Test
Chromium in Water Test
Mercury in Water Test