Five Substances You May Not Know Are in Your Drinking Water


Do you know what’s in the water that’s coming into your home? Here in South Carolina, we’re extremely fortunate to enjoy a supply of water that’s clean and safe to use from our local water supply. However, this water certainly isn’t pure—in fact, it contains a number of substances that may surprise you. While we must emphasize that your water is considered safe to drink and use for things like cooking and bathing, it’s also perfectly reasonable to not want some of these surprising substances in your water, which is where a water filtration solution could be a great investment for you.

Here are five substances which are commonly found in public water supplies that you probably didn’t know were there.


Mercury is a silver-colored heavy metal that many people know is extraordinarily toxic to humans. However, it’s only toxic in large amounts. Believe it or not, mercury is also found in some of the foods we eat, notably fish which absorb it from the water they swim in. Fish is perfectly fine to eat, and in fact it’s a pretty big dietary staple in some cultures around the world. Mercury poisoning from fish only becomes a concern after you eat a lot of fish in a very short period of time, and there’s an even smaller concentration in your drinking water.

With that being said, however, mercury is still a toxic substance, and that means it’s a good idea to filter it out if you can. Elderly, young children and infants, and those with compromised immune systems could be extra sensitive to the mercury, particularly if the levels become elevated at all.


Lead is an extraordinarily common metal, even more common than mercury, and is likewise toxic in large amounts. However, before we knew lead carried this risk, it was a commonly-used material in plumbing, and we constructed pipes for just about everything from water supply to sewage lines from it. High amounts of lead can lead to elevated risks for cancer, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and so much more. It can also cause lead poisoning, which is a serious issue that could prove fatal. And yet, it shocks many people to learn that lead is actually a common substance found in drinking water.

Also not unlike Mercury, lead can be a particular risk factor for children, whose growing bodies absorb lead more quickly. And to make things even more frightening: even newer homes aren’t necessarily lead-free. Even without lead pipes in the walls, your water could still carry trace amounts of lead.


Manganese is not a toxic-substance. It is a metal, but it’s one that’s generally pretty easy to detect. It’s generally not colorless, adds a strange and offensive taste to your water, and even changes the color to a sort of murky, brown-ish tint. Iron, another common metal, is also commonly found in water and exhibits many of the same qualities. If you notice that your water had a strange brown-ish tinge to it and carries a strange taste or odor, high concentrations of manganese or iron could be the cause. Fortunately, this metal is generally pretty simple to filter out of your water with a high-quality filtration system.


Arsenic has woven its place into pop culture through many stories and famous novels written throughout the 19th century. Fabled for being an odorless and tasteless poison when extracted and concentrated, it made an effective weapon of choice in many murder mysteries. However, Arsenic is actually an extremely common substance found throughout the earth’s crust. It’s not uncommon for arsenic to even be present in supposedly “pure” natural water springs as a result.

While our bodies are capable of filtering out the tiny amounts of arsenic commonly found in most clean drinking water, research shows that exposure to high levels of the substance can cause some serious health problems, including cancer. However, this substance can be filtered out of drinking water with modern technology designed to do so.


“You mean that stuff they use in pool water?” Almost. In its gaseous form, Chlorine is mustard yellow, has a foul odor, and can be extraordinarily toxic in even small amounts. However, mix it with many other substances and it quickly becomes inert and even beneficial in many ways. When mixed with sodium, and equally volatile and dangerous substance, the two form sodium chloride which is more commonly known as regular table salt.

However, chlorine is actually a good thing to have in your water. Chlorine serves as a disinfectant, killing off many of the bacteria, viruses, and other harmful things which live in water. Thanks to chlorination of drinking water, diseases like cholera, dysentery, and typhoid have become all but eradicated throughout much of the world. In fact, the World Health Organization credits chlorination of our water with being one of the single most influential processes in improvement of overall public health.

With that being said, however, it’s still important to note that excessive chlorine levels are not healthy, and that filtering chlorine out of your water will improve its taste and appearance.

To learn more about filtering these and many other substances out of the water in your home, talk to the experts at Carter Quality Plumbing about a whole-home water filtration system by calling (803) 998-2270!