Common Contaminants in Drinking Water

By: Thea Nixon | Published: 31 Aug, 2016

Contaminants 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 Plants

Petroleum Production

Natural & Industrial Deposit Leaching

Wood Preservatives


Severe skin problems

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

Cardiovascular & nervous system damage

BariumMineral Deposits

Drilling Waste Disposal

Copper Smelting

Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing

Breathing problems

Increased blood pressure

Changes in heart rhythm

Stomach irritation

Brain swelling

Muscle weakness

Damage to liver, kidney, heart & spleen

CadmiumGalvanized Pipe Corrosion

Natural Deposit Erosion

Metal Refinery Discharge

Waste Battery & Paint runoff

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, sensory disturbances, liver injury, shock & renal failure

Long term: kidney, liver, bone & blood damage

ChloramineMunicipal TreatmentWhen present in dialysis water, can cause hemolytic anemia
ChromiumTrivalent chromium is naturally occurring

Hexavalent chromium is a byproduct of some chemical processes

Nausea, gastrointestinal distress, stomach ulcers, skin ulcers & allergic reactions

Kidney & liver damage

Reproductive problems

Pulmonary & nasal cancers

CopperIndustrial Discharges

Copper salts for reservoir algae control

Copper Plumbing Corrosion

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal illness & abdominal & muscle pain

Anemia, liver poisoning & kidney failure

FluorideNatural Deposits

Treated Municipal Water

Long 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 Lines

Lead Containing Solder

Brass Fittings

Industrial Processes



Lower intelligence

Hearing impairment

Growth impediment

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

Nitrates/NitritesHuman Sewage

Livestock Manure

Methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome)
MercurySport Fish

Natural 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 Deposits

Copper Smelting

Hair and fingernail changes

Fatigue and irritability

Damage to peripheral nervous system

SilverPrimarily from use as a bacteriostat in water treatment devices

Naturally occurring in soil as insoluble silver chloride and silver sulfide

Argyria (discoloration of skin, hair & organs)
UraniumNaturally Occurring MineralIncreased risk of cancer

Kidney toxicity