Iron in drinking water is not a big concern as it doesn’t have severe health effects on humans. Its recommended amount in drinking water is beneficial. Excessive iron can give drinking water an unpleasant taste, color, and odor. Besides this, it can stain appliances, utensils, concrete, sinks, and fixtures. Iron deposits build up in pipelines, water heaters, water softening tanks, and pressure tanks. As a result of the deposition of iron, water pressure reduces, and water flow gets affected. This article covers the major concerns related to iron in drinking water, their testing methods, and the treatments.
According to research at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the recommended limit for iron in drinking water is 0.3mg/l.
Concerns Related to Iron in Drinking Water
Iron is one of the essential elements found in the human body in the form of hemoglobin, due to which our blood color is red. Iron is also present in drinking water to some extent and has positive and negative effects on humans. In drinking water, iron is present in the form of dissolved iron.
Dissolved iron is a natural contaminant found in drinking water. Usually, ferric iron (Fe3+) is present in water which is not soluble in water and is visible to the naked eye. Besides ferric iron, ferrous iron (Fe2+) is also found in water, and it is the soluble iron that isn’t visible.
Although an excessive amount of iron in drinking water isn’t suitable for human health, a small amount of iron in drinking water is essential for us. It has the following benefits for human beings.
- The optimum amount of iron in drinking water helps transport oxygen in the blood.
- Iron prevents anemia (lack of red blood cells) and helps in red blood cell formation.
- Moreover, iron in the human body helps in cell growth.
- Iron also aids in regulating body temperature.
- A reasonable amount of iron in drinking water helps boost the immune system.
Iron is not found in excessive amounts in drinking water, so it’s unlikely to have iron poisoning through drinking water. Iron is beneficial for the human body, so its slight overdose isn’t dangerous. However, if someone takes an overdose of iron through supplements and tablets, it can be dangerous. Besides this, excessive iron in drinking water can cause the following issues.
- Excessive iron in drinking water can cause teeth discoloration. If you use iron water for the long term, it may stain your teeth brown or black.
- Iron in drinking water offers an unpleasant metallic taste. It has a foul odor that isn’t appetizing to drink.
- Excessive iron in water can stain plumbing fixtures that include sinks, tubs, and toilets. Iron sediments in water build over time and stain these fixtures. Commercial stain removers are best to use these iron stains from fixtures.
How to Test Water for Iron?
If your home appliances are rusting or your drinking water has a foul odor, you should test your drinking water to check for iron. You can test your drinking water for iron in two possible ways. The first is to get your test done with a local water quality expert. Certified lab testing is the most accurate way to check iron in your drinking water.
Iron test kits and strips are available at Amazon that helps you test your water on your own. You can take water into a container and dip the test strip. After some time, remove the strip from the water and compare its color with the reference chart to check the iron level. Besides this, iron kits are available with some chemicals. You have to add a few drops of the chemical solution to the testing water and observe its color changes. These tests are quicker, accurate, and less expensive.
Treatments to Remove Iron from Drinking Water
If iron is present in drinking water in an excessive amount, you can perform certain techniques to remove it from the water. Water filters and water softeners are the two best options to remove iron from the water.
Filtration is the best way to remove excessive iron from the water. Iron filters mostly use oxidizing agents like chlorine. Oxidizing agents help remove iron from the water. Besides this, water filters also convert ferrous (soluble form of iron) to ferric (insoluble form). The ferric iron precipitates out of the water and then is trapped by the water filter.
Water softeners should be used alongside with water filter to remove iron from drinking water. If you directly use water softeners in highly contaminated (having excessive iron) water, the water softeners can become clogged quickly. So it’s better to use these devices with water filters to remove bicarbonates and excessive iron from your drinking water.
Iron in drinking water is not hazardous to human health, but if it exceeds the recommended limit (which isn’t common), it can cause some health issues. Iron buildup damages appliances and plumbing fixtures. Thus, you must first test your drinking water for iron and use a water softener and water filters to remove excessive iron.