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Why is our tap water making us sick?


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#1 MamaLovesLipstick

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:03 PM

First, let me say this is my first time at this forum and didn't know where else to turn.

 

Here's our problem in short.  We are renting a home that is making us sick and it seems to be coming from the tap water.  When we drank the water we'd get stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  So we switched to bottled water and all the symptoms went away.  We repeated this process a few times of a period of weeks and months.  When I say we, I am referring to our entire family.

 

The water company did a so called "extensive water testing" at the request of us and our landlords.  Tests were done from the kitchen sink and outside the house at the meter.  All tests fell within EPA standards.  The only noticeable difference between the house and at the meter; the "iron" level was high inside the house.  The water is always a reddish brown color first thing in the morning.  It turns clear after running for 4 to 5 minutes, but becomes discolored after sitting unused for about an hour.

 

We even installed a two-stage filter under the kitchen sink.  This did not help, we continued to get sick from the filtered tap water.  My doctor also ran blood tests for potential toxicity, which also came back negative.  Mind you, I had stopped drinking the water weeks prior and was told by the doctor to stop drinking it.

 

When cooking, I'm also using the bottled water.  However, there have been a few occasions when I forgot and used the tap water to rinse lettuce and steam rice.  Each time, including last night, we get the same sick symptoms for less than 24 hours.

 

I have a YouTube video of the water and a copy of the water lab report, but was uncertain if I could post them.

 

Is the iron in the water making us sick?  Could it be something else that is going undetected?  Any help would be appreciated.

 

Thank you - Mama 


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#2 pwagen

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:16 PM

How old are the pipes? Without knowing too much about how much you've looked everything up, it does sound a bit like lead poisoning. It's weird that the water company didn't find anything, you might want to get a second opinion on that. If the pipes are from before the late eighties, chances are they've got a lot of lead in them, and have started deteriorating by now. Do you have this problem with both warm and cold water? I remember something about warm water having a risk with bringing a lot of heavy metals with it, which is why you shouldn't use it for cooking.

 

Edit: I looked it up. Led poisoning should cause constipation, not diarrhea, which makes it less likely.

 

Iron poisoning can lead to similar symptoms, and it's supported by the color of your water for the first few minutes. Where does the water come from - your own well or community pipes, or something else? If it's your own well and the ground is rich in iron, it can come up with the water. Did the filters make the brown color go away? If it did, and you still got sick, I'd look to something else than iron, even though you should probably have that looked at.

 

If you're having it tested again, make sure they do two tests. Let the water stand still for about a day before they show up, so they can get a sample from the brown water. Then get another sample after the color has cleared.

 

Edit again: According to this, zinc seems a likely candidate. Read more here: http://water.epa.gov...rystandards.cfm


Edited by pwagen, 27 February 2013 - 06:25 PM.

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The above may be false.

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#3 Ringer

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:26 PM

The brown water could also be a break in the pipe. But I would think the they would have checked for that.
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#4 LowWattBulb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:05 AM

When I hear the symptoms my first thought is a microorganism of some sort, though in reading through the EPA testing list I see that the chemicals listed can produce the symptoms that you mentioned. 

Some questions:

 

When you got the symptoms, did they come on quickly after drinking the water? 

How long did the symptoms persist when you had them?

Where do you live? What type of area are you in? Is it residential or mixed use? What type of industry does your local are have?

What was on your land before your house?

Did you develop a fever when the symptoms came on? 

Has anyone else in your area complained of the same thing?


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#5 MamaLovesLipstick

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Posted 1 March 2013 - 08:05 PM

To answer your questions, this is water from the City of Salem, Oregon.  We are on city water, not a well.

 

They symptoms present themselves within a few hours of drinking the water.  Symptoms go away within 12-24 hours after ceasing tap water usage.

 

The house was built in 1976.  Prior to this date I have no idea what the land was used for.

 

No fevers.

 

No one else has complained in the immediate area.  We do know that the homeowner's previous to our landlords lived in it from 1976 to 2007, and both died of cancer.

 

Our landlords say they knew about the brown/rusty water, but it never caused them problems and they drank the water.

 

Pwagen said, "Let the water stand still for about a day before they show up, so they can get a sample from the brown water."  Ironically, on two different days (a few weeks apart) the water company did the tests, and each time they let the water run for 3 to 5 minutes prior to testing.  I know that this is not the correct procedure, because I spoke with a private water lab.

 

This is an actual video of our water.    It does not look like this everyday.  This water was what came out of the tap after replacing the water heater.  Daily, it looks very similar only not as concentrated.

 

Thanks for the replies.


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#6 pwagen

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Posted 1 March 2013 - 08:24 PM

That is some disgusting water. My parents have their own well, and the the water there is quite rich in iron. So when the filters break, the water is discolored. But even at its worst, it's NOTHING like that. It almost looks like what the title suggests - diarrhea drinking water. It's unfathomable that the water company didn't find anything, or didn't even react to the color. They, or someone else, needs to test the water when it looks like that.

 

You did mention in the video that this only appeared after you got a new water heater. Was it new or used?

 

I also found some more suggestions here: http://www.cbnbh2o.c...ater_color.html

You might want to try this. And let us know of any progress.

 

Some common indications that the problem is coming from the customer's plumbing include:
 
* The water is discolored every morning or when first used after several hours of disuse.
* The water clears after it has run for a few minutes.
* The discoloration is only at one or several faucets, but not all of them.
* The discoloration is only in the hot water.
 
If you are still not sure if the discolored water is due to your plumbing or if it's coming from the Water Board's water mains, do the following:
 
* When you notice the water is discolored, turn off the faucet.
*Immediately take a clean glass or a white bowl and go to the water faucet (hose bib) at the front of your house, apartment, or business. This faucet is usually near the main water shut-off valve for the property.
*Turn the water on wide-open and run it for a full two minutes. Check your watch - two minutes is a long time.
*After two minutes, fill the glass or bowl with water.

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The above may be false.

pwagen get freaken name u another weirdo gay evil demon not a builder to lv frever creep


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#7 LowWattBulb

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Posted 4 March 2013 - 09:19 AM

The color is definitely suggestive of ferric oxide, but a whole host of things can produce similar colors. If the rest of Salem, Oregon, is not complaining about their water quality, then it seems very likely that it is something in your plumbing, and if it happened after the water heater was installed, then I'd say their is your culprit. If I had to make a guess as to the most likely cause of the diarrhea and GI complaints, I would say it is an iron bacteria. Iron bacteria metabolize iron ions in the water and produce ferric oxide, which is insoluble in water. A bacterial agent would explain the GI symptoms and the discoloration. 


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#8 Genecks

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 03:38 PM

In the case that the original poster is not trolling, then the ideal thing to do is separate the water. However, the color is off, so obvious the water company should have something to say about that. If the water company does not have something to say about that, then a professional plumber may be able to help. If the plumber cannot help, then you may want to talk to your neighbors about the water issue. Afterward, if they have the same issue, then report the issue to the federal government, such as the EPA.


Edited by Genecks, 15 March 2013 - 03:38 PM.

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