Water Analysis & Testing
Water quality should never be ignored. Whether you are a homeowner with a private well or if you are part of a community water system, knowing your water quality may protect your health as well as your pipes and fixtures. Homeowners that notice a change in their water color, odor or taste should check their water immediately.
Water testing should also be considered after certain events. When purchasing a new home, it is recommended that you have the water tested. When repairing or replacing your pipes or well pump, a water test will help confirm that the work has been completed properly. If you have a baby, your water should be tested as infants are more sensitive to contaminants in drinking water.
If you want to test your water and you are not sure where to begin, a Full Potability Test is a great place to start. We can mail sampling kits to help get the process underway. Northeast Laboratories can provide a plethora of different water testing services for homeowners, property managers, realtors, businesses and more.
Potable Water Testing
Color may result from iron, manganese, other metals, or organic material. The cause of high color level should be investigated.
Odor is a subjective evaluation of acceptability of the water. The source of any unusual odors should be investigated.
Hardness is primarily a measure of calcium and magnesium in water and is related to the soap-consuming power of water and/or calcium (e.g. white buildup) at taps and on glassware etc.
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of water. Higher levels of turbidity may indicate the failure of a filtration system and may be associated with bacteria, viruses, or other disease-causing organisms. Any high turbidity reading should be investigated.
pH is the measure of the acidity or basicity of water. A lower pH can have corrosive effects on pipes and plumbing systems.
The presence of nitrates or nitrites may indicate the presence of sewage or septic contamination. Elevated levels could lead to severe illness in infants.
Chlorine residual is a measure of the chlorine level in drinking water. Non-chlorinated water systems such as residential wells should be free of chlorine prior to testing for coliform bacteria.
Chloride is a naturally occurring element most often found as a component of salt. Chlorides are naturally found in groundwater, but the presence of high levels may be an indication of groundwater pollution from stormwater runoff. The use of a water softener can also increase chloride levels.
Sulfate naturally occurs in drinking water. At high levels it may have a laxative effect and may cause issues with the taste and/or odor of the water.
Sodium occurs naturally in the environment, although elevated levels may be caused by stormwater runoff or the use of a sodium-based softener system. Persons with high blood pressure, hypertension, congestive heart disease or persons on a low salt diet should consult their physician before consuming water from a source with a high sodium level.
Arsenic is an element found naturally in mineral deposits and in the wastewater runoff from orchards as well as manufacturers. Elevated levels of arsenic may cause skin damage and an increased risk of cancer.
Copper is used in plumbing systems and can also be found in natural deposits. It can cause staining. At higher levels it can cause gastrointestinal distress as well as liver and kidney problems with long term exposure.
Lead is a metal formerly used in soldering joints in plumbing systems but has been prohibited since 1986. Lead can cause delays in the physical and mental development of children as well as kidney problems in adults.
Iron and Magnesium
The presence of iron and magnesium causes staining of fixtures. At elevated levels, manganese may pose a hazard to infants.
Uranium is an element found naturally in mineral deposits. Elevated levels of uranium may cause kidney problems and an increased risk of cancer.
Coliform bacteria are indicator organisms used in determining the relative safety of drinking water. While coliform is found throughout the environment, the presence of coliform in a drinking water system indicates the possible presence of other disease producing organisms.
E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria found primarily in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. The presence of these organisms should be considered an immediate health risk. Certain strains of E. coli can cause hemorrhagic colitis.
Non Potable Water Testing
Wastewater describes water that has already been consumed and can include stormwater runoff, sewage, and industrial discharges. Wastewater testing services include Fecal Coliform, Alkalinity, Chlorides, Ammonia, Nitrates, Total Phosphorus, Heavy Metals, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Suspended Solids, BOD, COD, Oil & Grease and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH). More testing options are available upon request.
Surface water describes any water that is above ground such as rivers, lakes and oceans. Our most requested tests for surface water include algae, phosphorus fractionation, nitrates, dissolved iron & manganese, tannins, and fecal coliform. More testing options are available upon request.
Swimming water describes water that people will be swimming and spending time in. Our most requested tests for swimming water include algae and e. coli. More testing options are available upon request.
Legionella is a type of bacteria that occurs naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads into human-made water systems such as cooling towers, spas or humidifiers. Legionella can cause a lung infection called Legionnaires' Disease. Legionella can only be transferred through water contact such as drinking or breathing in water droplets in the air. We are a CDC Certified Elite Level testing laboratory for Legionella.
For information on algae testing, please look at our algae testing page.