BP002-2023 A Ripple Effect: Drinking Water Contaminants


Around 81% of South Africa’s city dwellers perceive their tap water to be safe to consume. From different pathogens to chemicals, communities are constantly exposed to fluctuating water quality, be it due to floods, load shedding or simply aging infrastructure and inadequate facilities maintenance.

Power-cuts a thorn in the eyes of a strained economy 

South Africa is dealing with a public health crisis and at the helm of this very crisis, is the nagging power cuts. SA´s pump stations rely on power to supply wastewater treatment facilities with sewage water for further treatment and discharge or reuse. In the absence of power, sewage can overflow and leach into the environment. Leaching primarily describes the process of water carrying soluble substances or small fragments through soil or rock.
What are some of the most troubling contaminants found in drinking water and how do they affect our health?

Physical Water Contaminants

Physical contaminants that can affect the physical properties of water, such as turbidity (murky or cloudy water) but are not chemically or biologically active. These are substances primarily affect the physical characteristics or other physical properties of water e.g. soil or organic material like algae. 

Some physical water contaminants include:

  • Sediment: Sand, soil, and other particles that are transported or elevated by water as it flows over the ground.
  • Debris: Including leaves, twigs, and other organic materials.
  • Rust: This happens when water comes into contact with iron or steel pipes.

Chemical Water Contaminants

These contaminants can naturally occur or synthetic and can come from a variety of sources such as agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and domestic wastewater.

Some Chemical water contaminants include:

  • Pesticides: Mostly used in agricultural and residential applications which can lead to  drinking water contamination through runoff or leaching.
  • Heavy metals: These can include lead, mercury, and arsenic, which can be present in drinking water due to industrial activities or naturally occurring in geological formations.
  • Disinfection byproducts: These are created when disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with organic matter in water.

Biological Water Contaminants

Microbiological contaminants are living organisms that can be found in drinking water and pose a risk to human health. These organisms can come from human and animal waste, soil, and other sources.
  • Bacteria: These microorganisms can cause illnesses such as diarrhea and cholera.
  • Viruses: These are infectious agents that can cause illnesses such as hepatitis A and rotavirus.
  • Protozoa: These are single-celled organisms that can cause illnesses such as giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis.
  • Parasites: Organisms that live on or within another organism and can cause illnesses such as trichomoniasis and schistosomiasis.

Radiological Water Contaminants

Radiological contaminants are defined as chemical elements that can emit ionising radiation (dues to unstable atoms), which can be harmful to human health. These elements can occur naturally in the environment or be released through human interference and activities such as mining and illegal dumping of nuclear waste.
  • Caesium-137: Used for radiation therapy in medicine (to treat cancer).
  • Radium or Uranium: This is a naturally occurring radioactive element that can cause kidney damage and other health problems.
  • Radon: This is a naturally occurring gas that can accumulate in dwellings and buildings and cause lung cancer.

How exactly are these contaminants identified?

Maintaining water treatment facilities is a very complex matter.
  • Public Water System Monitoring: Public water systems are required to regularly monitor (and report) their water for certain contaminants. This monitoring can help identify any issues with water quality and allow for prompt corrective action.
  • Source water assessment: Source water assessments are conducted to identify potential sources of contamination that may affect the safety of drinking water supplies. These assessments take into account factors such as land use, geology, and hydrology.
  • Water quality testing: Water quality testing can be conducted on individual private wells or other water sources to identify any contaminants that may be present.
  • Epidemiological studies: Epidemiological studies can be used to identify associations between water quality and health outcomes, which can help identify potential contaminants.
  • Emerging contaminant monitoring: Emerging contaminants are contaminants that are not yet regulated but may pose a potential risk to human health. Monitoring for emerging contaminants can help identify potential risks and inform regulatory decisions.
  • Contaminant candidate list: The Contaminant Candidate List is a list of unregulated contaminants that may pose a potential risk to human health. The list is used to prioritise contaminants for further study and potential regulation.

Resolving the conundrum with a comprehensive and robust water filtration solution for your home. 

What if we told you that we have a solution that requires no electricity nor a storage tank?

Just PUSH & CLICK with the STREAM 5S (STE)

5 stages in 4 encapsulated filters 
The Stiebel Eltron Stream 5S Water Purifier provides you with the highest quality water with 5 stages of filtration, eliminates sediment and microorganisms, removes chlorine and eradicates unpleasant odours. 
PUSH & CLICK filter system makes filter replacement easy and fast. 
The Beautiful design is easy to use with “Push & Click” function and other features.
The Stream is the best and most complete water filtration system.
Ultrafiltration technology for 100 % removal of bacteria 
Our premium Ultrafiltration (UF) membrane acts as a filter that blocks bacteria and biofilm growth. The contemporary design blends seamlessly with the PUSH & CLICK system. 
Antibacterial silver ions provide double protection
Clean and protected from external contamination, Carbon protection Prevents contamination from the outside of the filter and keeps the bacteria inside.
Want to know more about our products? Chat to one of our experts today!
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