Is Iron in Drinking Water a Public Health Risk?


It’s long been thought that the presence of iron in drinking water is a cosmetic problem rather than a public health concern. But some scientists are now saying that while the iron itself might not be hazardous to your health, what it does to your drinking water is.

Dr. Marc Edwards is a professor at Virginia Tech and world-renowned expert on lead corrosion. He found dangerous levels of lead in Flint’s water system last summer after a local resident and activist reached out to ask for help.

His research says that high iron in water can remove disinfectants like chlorine, allowing harmful bacteria to grow. This includes bacteria like legionella, which causes Legionnaire’s Disease.

Legionnaire’s disease is a lung infection caused by breathing in contaminated water droplets. The disease also causes high fever and diarrhea and it can be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control estimates as few as two per cent of legionella cases ever get reported, so it’s tough to know the true impact on public health.

Edwards believes that there may have been an increase in rates Legionnaire’s disease in the Flint area based on the number of cases health officials have reported, but no direct link has been made to the city’s water supply.

“Regular testing can help to protect your water system and the people who rely on you to provide safe drinking water,” says Pat Whalen, President & CEO of microbial monitoring firm LuminUltra. “Detecting elevated microbial growth levels in real-time can mean the difference between early prevention and putting consumers at risk.” Whalen adds that LuminUltra Water (QGA™) test kit enables microbial data to be generated in a short amount of time from many points in a water treatment or distribution system.

Click here to learn more about LuminUltra’s rapid, innovative products and commitment to service.

Stacey Pineau

Clearly explaining complex topics has been Stacey’s focus for close to 25 years now. She helps plan how best to reach the right people, then works to provide them with relevant information that’s easy to understand. Stacey is a team player with an entrepreneurial spirit. She has broad experience that spans the private and public sectors. A lover of words, Stacey has a slightly irrational love of the library and a personal collection of way too many books and magazines. She lives in Fredericton with her husband Ray, their two children and dog Scouty.

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