Consumers often ask the question, “OK, so my water is safe to drink according to my local Water Authority and a recent certified laboratory test, but why does it taste funny, smell bad and/or appear so cloudy?”

The answer to that question lies in something called Secondary Drinking Water Standards. The United States Environmental Protection Agency makes suggestions as to limitations for water parameters that do not necessarily pose health risks to humans, but can affect drinking water’s aesthetic properties (i.e. color, taste, odor, etc.).

Contaminant Secondary MCL Noticeable Effects above the Secondary MCL
Aluminum 0.05 to 0.2 mg/L* colored water
Chloride 250 mg/L salty taste
Color 15 color units visible tint
Copper 1.0 mg/L metallic taste; blue-green staining
Corrosivity Non-corrosive metallic taste; corroded pipes/ fixtures staining
Fluoride 2.0 mg/L tooth discoloration
Foaming agents 0.5 mg/L frothy, cloudy; bitter taste; odor
Iron 0.3 mg/L rusty color; sediment; metallic taste; reddish or orange staining
Manganese 0.05 mg/L black to brown color; black staining; bitter metallic taste
Odor (i.e. Hydrogen Sulfide or Tannins) 3 TON (threshold odor number) “rotten-egg”, musty or chemical smell
pH 6.5 – 8.5 low pH: bitter metallic taste; corrosion
high pH:
slippery feel; soda taste; deposits
Silver 0.1 mg/L skin discoloration; graying of the white part of the eye
Sulfate 250 mg/L salty taste
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) 500 mg/L hardness; deposits; colored water; staining; salty taste
Zinc 5 mg/L metallic taste
* mg/L is milligrams of substance per liter of water

If you need to test for any of the above items, we currently carry testing products for a number of them in the Water Test Kit Store (Shop.WaterTestingBlog.Com).