Water Testing

Safe drinking water should be a paramount priority for any homeowner. In addition to health concerns, water quality can impact the taste, smell and color of your water and cause staining of clothes and corrosion of pipes and fixtures.

If the property you are considering relies on well water, mortgage lenders usually require at least basic water testing (coliformbacteria, pH and chloride). The FHA requires additional testing for nitrates, nitrites, turbidity and lead. There are several other tests that can be done, depending upon your concerns and circumstances, such as for levels of copper, iron, aluminum, zinc, etc.

Even though municipal utilities test city water for safety, it is a good idea to have the water coming from your tap tested for lead, as it could leach into your water from pipes and fittings on its way to your home.

water testing in glass

Water packages

We offer several water packages to give you peace of mind.


We test the water for the presence of bacteria to determine whether it is safe for human consumption.



This package includes our bacteriological testing as well as an informative content profile, including: pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Sulfate, Fluoride, Turbidity, Hardness and Iron.


Further water testing available upon request, please contact our office directly for more details. (301) 685-3145

Items tested in our packages listed above:


Coliform bacteria are present in soils and E. coli in human and animal feces. The presence of these bacteria may indicate surface water intrusion contamination or contamination from a septic system. EPA considers them to be the indicator organisms for “safe” drinking water.

potential of hydrogen (pH)

(Recommended range 6.5-8.0) is a measure of how acid or alkaline the water is. Low numbers (around 5) indicate acid water and are usually associated with corrosion problems, pin hole plumbing leaks and can contribute to high lead and copper levels.


(MCL = 10 mg/L) and Nitrite (MCL = 1.0 mg/L) – Major sources of nitrates or nitrites in drinking water include fertilizer, sewage and feedlots. Infants who drink water containing nitrates in excess of the MCL may develop shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome.


(MCL = 10 mg/L) and Nitrite (MCL = 1.0 mg/L) – Major sources of nitrates or nitrites in drinking water include fertilizer, and feedlots. Infants who drink water containing nitrates in excess of the MCL may develop shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome.


During the past 20 years there has been a general rise in chloride levels in wells resulting from salt being used for road de-icing. High levels contribute to the corrosiveness of water on pipes and heating equipment. It’s usually accompanied by high sodium levels, which can be a health concern to some individuals.


(Guidance Level = 250 mg/L) is found in almost all natural waters. At high levels it may indicate septic or agricultural leaching into the water supply. Can be a precursor to hydrogen sulfide or “rotten egg” odor and taste in the drinking water.


(MCL = 4.0 mg/L) at an optimum level of 1 mg/L has been shown to be effective in reducing dental cavities. At levels over 2.4 mg/L it may cause mottling of teeth and bone disease.


Refers to the degree of cloudiness in water due to suspended particles. If turbidity increases after a rain, it can indicate that surface water intrusion is occurring in the well. High turbidity levels are often associated with disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria.


- is a measure of how much calcium and magnesium carbonate is dissolved in the water. Hard water is generally good tasting and good for you; however it can produce scaling on plumbing fixtures and give poor sudsing characteristics. FTL measures hardness in mg/L. Low = 0-75mg/L; moderate = 76-150mg/L; hard = 151-250mg/L; very hard 251 or more mg/L. 1mg/L is equal to 0.058 grains/gallon.


(Guidance level = 0.3 mg/L) – When iron comes in contact with oxygen, it changes to a reddish compound that can discolor bathroom fixtures and laundry. It can also impart a metallic taste to the water.


(Guidance Level = 0.2 mg/L)Aluminum occurs naturally in water and is also used in water treatment processes to flocculate suspended particles. No standard has been set, but at high levels it has been suggested that it may cause skeletal and neurological problems.


(MCL = 0.05 mg/L) Manganese is similar to iron, but it produces a brown/black discoloration rather than the rust red of iron. A high level produces a very unpleasant odor and taste in water and may produce black deposits. Chlorine bleach should not be used in laundry washed in high iron or manganese water because it causes stains to set in clothing.


(MCL = 0.015 mg/L) enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion of materials containing lead that are in the water distribution system and household plumbing such as lead-based solder, brass, and chrome plated brass faucets. In some cases, it could come from pipes made of lead that connect your house water to service lines. High levels may cause delays in physical and mental development in children. In adults it may contribute to kidney problems and high blood pressure.


(MCL = 1.0 mg/L) Water can be a significant source of copper intake depending upon the geographical location, the character of the water, the temperature of the water and the presence of copper pipes. Copper has toxic effects at high dose levels and may cause kidney or liver damage; but it is an essential element at lower levels.


Zinc most commonly enters the domestic water supply from deterioration of galvanized iron and dezincification of brass. In such cases lead and cadmium also may be present because they are impurities of the zinc used in galvanizing. Zinc in water also may result from industrial waste pollution.


Calcium is the major source of “hardness” in water where it can be a nuisance. It builds up on the interior of pipes, water heater coils, boilers and plumbing fixtures, but it also makes the water taste good and is good for you. At low levels, it is helpful in water supplies as it tends to form a coating on pipes and helps prevent corrosion.


Along with calcium, a contributor to the hardness of water. See comments on calcium. Both calcium and magnesium enter the water when it is in contact with limestone. Water softeners remove “hardness” by replacing the calcium and magnesium with sodium.


(MCL = 0.05 mg/L) Arsenic in water can result from both natural processes and industrial activities, including smelting operations, use of arsenical pesticides and industrial waste disposal. Exposure above the MCL may cause skin damage, cancer, or problems with the circulatory system.


A guidance level of 20 mg/L in drinking water is suggested by the EPA for the high risk population of hypertensives and heart patients. Food accounts for approximately 90% of the daily intake of sodium, whereas water contributes up to the remaining 10%.


Selenium (MCL = 0.05 mg/L) occurs naturally in some rocks and soils but can also indicate contamination from mines and refineries. Selenium is an essential nutrient at low levels but at high dose levels it is toxic.


Potassium is an essential element in both plant and human nutrition, and occurs in groundwater as a result of mineral dissolution, from decomposing plant material, and from agricultural runoff.


Mercury (MCL = 0.002 mg/L) Almost all mercury detected to date in drinking water is in the form of inorganic mercury. Inorganic mercury is poorly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, does not penetrate cell membranes rapidly and is less toxic than methyl mercury. However, inorganic mercury may cause liver damage.


THM compounds have been found in most chlorinated water supplies in the US; typically they are produced in the treatment process as a result of chlorination. Toxicological studies suggest that chloroform is a potential human carcinogen. Exposure above MCL may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) include 62 different organic compounds. None of them occur naturally in water. They can indicate gasoline contamination if benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylenes or methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) are observed, or they can detect other organic compounds and solvents such as methylene chloride, tricholroethylene (TCE), tetracholorethylene (PERC/PCE) or carbon tetrachloride.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) include 62 different organic compounds. None of them occur naturally in water. They can indicate gasoline contamination if benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylenes or methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) are observed, or they can detect other organic compounds and solvents such as methylene chloride, tricholroethylene (TCE), tetracholorethylene (PERC/PCE) or carbon tetrachloride.


The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, national statistics don’t tell you specifically about the quality and safety of the water coming out of your tap. That’s because drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn, and the treatment it receives. Now you have a new way to find information about your drinking water if it comes from a public water supplier (The EPA doesn’t regulate private wells, but recommends that well.  owners have their water tested annually.) Starting in 1999, every community water supplier must provide an annual report (sometimes called a “consumer confidence report”) to its customers. The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water’s source, the contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water. You may want more information, or you may have more questions. One place you can go is to your water supplier, who is best equipped to answer questions about your specific water supply. 

There is no such thing as naturally pure water. In nature, all water contains some impurities. As water flows in streams, sits in lakes, and filters through layers of soil and rock in the ground, it dissolves or absorbs the substances that it touches. Some of these substances are harmless. In fact, some people prefer mineral water precisely because minerals give it an appealing taste. However, at certain levels, minerals, just like man-made chemicals, are considered contaminants that can make water unpalatable or even unsafe. Some contaminants come from the erosion of natural rock formations. Other contaminants are substances discharged from factories, applied to farmlands, or used by consumers in their homes and yards. Sources of contaminants might be in your neighborhood or might be many miles away. Your local water quality report tells which contaminants are in your drinking water, the levels at which they were found, and the actual or likely source of each contaminant. Some ground water systems have established wellhead protection programs to prevent substances from contaminating their wells. Similarly, some surface-water systems protect the watershed around their reservoir to prevent contamination. Right now, states and water suppliers are working systematically to assess every source of drinking water, and to identify potential sources of contaminants. This process will help communities to protect their drinking water supplies from contamination. 

A clean, constant supply of drinking water is essential to every community. People in large cities frequently drink water that comes from surface-water sources, such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Sometimes, these sources are close to the community. Other times, drinking water suppliers get their water from sources many miles away. In either case, when you think about where your drinking water comes from, it’s important to consider not just the part of the river or lake that you can see, but the entire watershed. The watershed is the land area over which water flows into the river, lake or reservoir. In rural areas, people are more likely to drink ground water that was pumped from a well. These wells tap into aquifers, the natural reservoirs under the earth’s surface, that may be only a few miles wide, or may span the borders of many states. As with surface water, it is important to remember that activities many miles away from you may affect the quality of ground water. Your annual drinking water quality report will tell you where your water supplier gets your water.

When a water supplier takes untreated water from a river or reservoir, the water often contains dirt and tiny pieces of leaves and other organic matter, as well as trace amounts of certain contaminants. When it gets to the treatment plant, water suppliers often add chemicals, called coagulants, to the water. These act on the water as it flows very slowly through tanks so that the dirt and other contaminants form clumps that settle to the bottom. Usually, this water then flows through a filter for removal of the smallest contaminants, such as viruses and Giardia. Most ground water is naturally filtered as it passes through layers of the earth into underground reservoirs known as aquifers. Water that suppliers pump from wells generally contains less organic material than surface water, and may not need to go through any or all of these treatments. The quality of the water will depend on local conditions. The most common drinking water treatment, considered by many to be one of the most important scientific advances of the 20th century, is disinfection. Most water suppliers add chlorine or another disinfectant to kill bacteria and other germs. Water suppliers use other treatments as needed, according to the quality of their source water. For example, systems whose water is contaminated with organic chemicals can treat their water with activated carbon, which adsorbs or attracts the chemicals dissolved in the water.

Using the new information that is now available about drinking water, citizens can be aware of the challenges of keeping drinking water safe and take an active role in protecting drinking water. There are lots of ways that individuals can get involved. Some people will help clean up the watershed that is the source of their community’s water. Other people might get involved in wellhead protection activities to prevent the contamination of the ground water source that provides water to their community. These people will be able to make use of the information that states and water systems are gathering as they assess their sources of water.  Concerned citizens may want to attend public meetings to ensure that their community’s need for safe drinking water is considered in making decisions about land use. You may wish to participate when your state and water system make funding decisions. And all consumers can do their part to conserve water and to dispose properly of household chemicals.

People who have HIV/AIDS, are undergoing chemotherapy, take steroids, or for another reason have a weakened immune system may be more susceptible to microbial contaminants, including Cryptosporidium, in drinking water. If you or someone you know fall into one of these categories, talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you need to take special precautions, such as boiling your water. Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of high levels of certain contaminants, including nitrate and lead. To avoid exposure to lead, use water from the cold tap for making baby formula, drinking and cooking, and let the water run for a minute or more if the water hasn’t been turned on for six or more hours. If your water supplier alerts you that your water does not meet the EPA’s standard for nitrates, and you have children under 6 months old, consult your healthcare provider. You may want to find an alternate source of water that contains lower levels of nitrates for your child.

The EPA has set standards for more than 80 contaminants that may be present in drinking water and pose a risk to human health. The EPA sets these standards to protect the health of everybody, including vulnerable groups like children. The contaminants fall into two groups, according to the health effects that they cause. Your local water supplier will alert you through the local media, direct mail, or other means if there is a potential acute or chronic health effect from compounds in the drinking water. You may want to contact them for additional information specific to your area. Acute effects occur within hours or days of the time that a person consumes a contaminant. People can suffer acute health effects from almost any contaminant if they are exposed to extraordinarily high levels (as in the case of a spill). In drinking water,microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, are the contaminants with the greatest chance of reaching levels high enough to cause acute health effects. Most people’s bodies can fight off these microbial contaminants the way they fight off germs, and these acute contaminants typically don’t have permanent effects. Nonetheless, when high-enough levels occur, they can make people ill, and can be dangerous or deadly for a person whose immune system is already weak due to HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, steroid use, or another reason. Chronic effects occur after people consume a contaminant at levels over the EPA’s safety standards for many years. The drinking water contaminants that can have chronic effects are chemicals (such as disinfection byproducts, solvents, and pesticides), radionuclides (such as radium), and minerals (such as arsenic). Examples of these chronic effects include cancer, liver and kidney problems, and reproductive difficulties.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for setting national drinking water standards that protect the health of the 250 million people who get their water from public water systems. Other people get their water from private wells which are not subject to federal regulations. Since 1974, the EPA has set national standards for over 80 contaminants that may occur in drinking water. While the EPA and state governments set and enforce standards, local governments and private water suppliers have direct responsibility for the quality of the water that flows to your tap. Water systems test and treat their water, maintain the distribution systems that deliver water to consumers, and report on their water quality to the state. States and the EPA provide technical assistance to water suppliers and can take legal action against systems that fail to provide water that meets state and EPA standards.

Drinking water suppliers are required to monitor and test their water many times, for many things, before sending it to consumers. These tests determine whether and how the water needs to be treated, as well as the effectiveness of the treatment process. If a water system consistently sends to consumers water that contains a contaminant at a level higher than EPA or state health standards regulate, or if the system fails to monitor for a contaminant, the system is violating regulations, and is subject to fines and other penalties. When a water system violates a drinking water regulation, it must notify the people who drink its water about the violation, what it means, and how they should respond. In cases where the water presents an immediate health threat, such as when people need to boil water before drinking it, the system must use television, radio and newspapers to get the word out as quickly as possible. Other notices may be sent by mail, or delivered with the water bill. Each water suppliers’ annual water quality report must include a summary of all the violations that occurred during the previous year.


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