Water quality and contamination

Waterquality and contamination



Wateris the driving force of every living organism, without it, we willsurely perish. Although consuming this essential substance necessary,it is also important to countercheck its quality standards. In thepresent day society, water bodies have been exposed to a lot ofpollutants ranging from home to industrial waste. This has negativelyimpacted our water quality. It is for this reason that we set out todetermine the presence of contaminants in water and the effects theyhave on plants. The experiments were run in two sets in the firstset presence of iron, chlorides, and other chemicals were testedusing a strip test. In the second batch, the physical properties ofcontaminated water were compared to clean water. It was found outthat our daily use substances such as detergents could be a source ofcontamination, foul smelling, and dark water shows the presence ofimpurities. It was also realized that bottled water is not alwaysbetter than tap water, Dasani bottled water was observed to be thebest.

Waterquality refers to the physical, chemical and biological measures ofwater conditions in relation to its suitability to a specifiedfunction. The essence of this experiment is to ascertain thecontamination levels in drinking water, the two major sources ofdrinking water are surface runoff and ground water. Generally, watercontains contaminants from geological matter, microorganism orinorganic chemicals, however, surface water is more prone topollution than groundwater. Sources of pollution are fertilizers,sewages, oil, septic tanks, metals and other industrial waste. Allthese poses a risk to the water consumer because the contaminantscannot be easily regulated. Some of these contaminants may providenutrients for the growth of cyanobacteria and blue-green algae whichinterfere with the taste of drinking water and even pose a healthrisk due to their production of toxins. This contamination can alsoarise from the chemicals used in the treatment process, for instance,iron can form iron oxide which can act to corrode the transportationpipes hence contamination. Microbial loads inherent to water sourcescould contribute to the accumulation of foul-smelling dimethylselenides and sulfides which can be detected by GC-MS method.[ CITATION MGu16 l 1033 ].Research studies are needed for the remediation of leaching waterspolluted to prevent further damage to surface and ground watersneeded.

Overtime now, studies have shown that too much chlorine could beassociated with the risk of cancer. According to the U.S council ofenvironmental quality, risk of obtaining cancer is 93% higher inpeople drinking chlorinated water than those drinking normal tapwater. Sewage effluent discharged to surface water has been shown tocontain phthalates, bisphenols, alkyl phenols, ethoxylates,polyethoxylates pesticides and pharmaceuticals which have been shownto act as endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors mimic the bodyhormones hence resulting in cancer.

Watertreatment options can also be a source of contamination. Despite thefact that it is meant to remove microorganisms, they have the abilityto form other pollutants including trihalomethanes and haloaceticacid [ CITATION JKf01 l 1033 ].Metals such as arsenic, iron, manganese, selenium and fluoride havebeen reported to because of death to most of the people insub-Saharan Africa and India. Drinking water containing high seleniumlevels can result in hair loss, skin lesions, weakened nails anddecreased prothrombin time.On the other hand, arsenic could result to skin cancer, lung cancer,bladder cancer, and liver cancer, it is also responsible forhyperkeratosis and peripheral vascular disease.

Themost important contaminant in agriculture is nitrate. This is becauseit causes a condition known as methaemoglobinaemia/ blue-babysyndrome, in bottle-fed infants who are 3 months old or younger(Steinberg&amp Fan, 1996).

Microbialpathogens could also occur in water and could result in fataldiarrheal diseases. Analysis and characterization of the watersamples should be done basing on the turbidity to eradicate suchillnesses.

Currentapproaches in the purification of water include the use of physicalprocesses such as filtration, sedimentation, distillation, slow sandfilter or biologically active carbon, flocculation, and chlorinationand use of ultraviolet light. When dealing with large water bodiesthereis a protocol that is followed the water has to be first pumped to acentral containment, screening would then follow whereby large debrisare removed slow sand filters can also be installed in river banks,pre-chlorination, and pH adjustments would finally follow.

Thecenters for disease control have therefore stepped up to prevent thespread of such illnesses by devising a consumer confidence reportswhereby every water supplier in each community is required to give astatement on the water quality basing on the reviews of the consumer.The reports encompass the source of water, possible contaminants andthe role of consumers in protecting their water source. (CDC, 2014).This could be a great initiative if practiced globally.


Theaim of this experiment is to determine the effect of physical andchemical pollutants on water, to determine the effect of contaminantson plants and to clean and purify the contaminated water at the endof the experiment.


Tapwater contains odor and most contaminants as compared to Fiji waterbecause it is more trusted by consumers.

Purifiedwater will ensure a healthier ecosystem and greater biodiversity ofspecies including the efficient growth of plants.

Materialsand Methods

Tapwater, bottled Dasani water and bottled Fiji water were used asexperimental perturbations. In the first experiment, the effect ofobvious pollutants on water was determined. Using strip test, levelsof ammonia, chlorides, phosphates, and iron in the three watersamples were measured. In addition, pH values, levels of alkalinityand water hardness were also determined. In the second experiment,the effect of water pollution was determined by mixing tap water withcontaminants oil, vinegar, and detergent as a follows






Water + Oil


Water + Vinegar


Water + Detergent

Thesoil was then added to beakers 1-4 which were then filtered tobeakers 5-8 respectively then observed. The water was purified byaddition of aluminum to separate soil from water whereas gravel andsand were used to separate contaminants from water using sizeexclusion method.



Table1: showing the levels of contaminants in the three water samples

Water sample

Ph value

Iron content

Ammonia levels

Chloride levels

Amount of chlorine


Phosphate levels


Tap water









Dasani bottled water









Fiji bottled water










Table2: showing water observations after addition of contaminants




Water is clear/smell ok


Oil rise to the top/ no odor


Mix well/little odor


Bubbles/no odor


Some sediment/ no odor


Cloudy oil/ oil in soil/ no odor


Strong odor/ brown water


Bubbles/water dark



Fromthe graph above, it can be shown that the difference in pH betweenthe three samples was very minimal. The iron content, ammonia leveland chloride levels which were apparently zero implying that theywere absent. Total chlorine levels were low in Dasani bottled water,medium in tap water and high in Fiji water. Too much chlorine couldact as endocrine disruptors and even cause cancer. Total alkalinitylevels were lowest in Dasani bottled water followed by tap water andfinally Fiji water. Drinking alkaline water frequently might increasethe pH value of the body hence affecting some metabolic processes.The phosphate level was equal in all the three samples. Phosphate isnaturally occurring but can also be found in fertilizers and otheragricultural waste which can find their way to surface water throughrunoff.

Inexperiment 2, presence of odor, cloudy or dark color after soiladdition implies impurities. It can be deduced that the water usedwas free of impurities since it had no odor even after the additionof soil. Vinegar, oil, and detergents are sources of contaminants toour drinking water. All this can be easily found on the environmentand washed off to the surface water. Water pollution affects theplant`s life cycle.it can either kill the plant or support itsgrowth. Acid rain, for instance, would kill the plant whilefertilizers would boost their growth. Since the future effects areunpredictable it is better to take action now before the situationgets out of hand. To prevent this contamination, it is important thatsuch wastes be disposed off in an area far from a water body.


Itis throughtheobservation of the physical, chemical and biological properties ofwater that we can be able to determine its level of purity. It isalso important to compare more than one factor in order to draw aconclusive opinion. For instance, the water containing vinegar onlyshowed little odor in the beginning but when soil was added morecharacteristic tics were manifested as in, strong odor and brownwater hence providing more information. In experiment 1, the findingsof my data were in contrast with my hypothesis because Fiji bottledwater was more contaminated as I thought earlier. Tap water turnedout to be even safer for drinking as compared to Fiji water. On otherhand Dasani bottled water was the best since it had the low levels ofchlorine and ammonia, it was also hard water as opposed to tap andFiji bottled water.

Inexperiment 2, my hypothesis was in line with my observations becausepart of the ecosystem will surely be destroyed if they utilizepolluted water. Biodiversity will be reduced and instead growth ofmore harmful species.

Iwould like to encourage everyone to step up and be in charge of theenvironment. If we take good care of it will be beneficial even forgenerations to come


Iwould recommend that the samples used should be stored at the sametemperature, maybe room temperature for a few minutes before thestart of the experiment.



FanAM, Steinberg VE. (1996) Health implications of nitrate and nitritein drinking water: an update on methemoglobinemia occurrence andreproductive and developmental toxicity. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 23:35–43

JK,f., &amp Stansfield, G. (2001). Drinking water quality and healthpollution causes, effects and control. London: Royal Society ofChemistry.

M.Guadayol, e. A. (2016). Determination of dimethyl selenide anddimethyl sulfide compounds causing off flavors in bottled mineralwater. Water research, 149-155.

C.D.C(2014). Water-related diseases and contaminants in public watersystems.