Some of the most dangerous water contaminants have no taste, smell, or appearance. Other contaminants are more obvious, rendering your water unpleasant to drink, or use for cooking and bathing.

Contaminants may or may not be in your tap water, so it is highly recommended that you do the research about your tap water source and have your tap water tested by an expert.

The taste and smell of chlorine are unappealing and can also dry out your skin and hair. While municipalities use chlorine to disinfect the water supply, it should be filtered out before you use it, in order to eliminate harmful or annoying effects.

Hard water results from high levels of calcium and magnesium in water. It is a natural occurrence that affects more than 95% of the water supply. Hard water minerals stick to everything water touches and do more than leave an unsightly residue – hard water can harm your appliances, fixtures, hair, skin and cost you money!

Lead seeps into the water supply from the lead pipes, solder and fixtures used extensively across the United States. There is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for children, who can suffer harmful and potentially chronic effects ranging from stomach pain to brain damage.

Nitrates are essential for food, flowers and greener lawns, which makes them a major ingredient in most fertilizers. Although nitrates are naturally occurring in soil, overuse of fertilizer is the largest cause of contamination. Nitrates spread on lawns and fields can move quickly through soil and grow more concentrated in groundwater, creating potential health risks for everyone, especially infants and pregnant women.

Local PSD annual tap water quality test results are public record, and are posted on your local PSD’s website; we recommend reading this report.  We also recommend looking up your tap water supply on EWG’s National Tap Water Database at Regardless of your tap water source, it is recommended to have your tap water tested at your faucet to ensure you always know what is in your tap water. 

When choosing a filter for your home, make sure the filter is certified to remove any contaminants found in your tap water.  Carbon refrigerator filters, faucet mount filters or filtered pitchers are affordable and reduce many common water contaminants.  However, a reverse osmosis filter gives you triple filtered water and removes contaminants that carbon filters cannot, like lead, nitrates, sodium, fluoride and pharmaceuticals.

For more information on how you can safeguard your home’s water supply, visit the Water Quality Association at or call a local water treatment expert.

Chris Lane is the owner of Culligan Water Conditioning of the Lowcountry, serving Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties.