Northeast Environmental
Testing Laboratory, Inc.
This potable water test offered by NEETL is a
ten parameter scan.  This universal water survey
was developed to detect problems from the
major sources of water pollution in New England:
private sewage, disposal systems (septic tanks,
cesspools), landfills, industrial wastes, sea water
infiltration, farm land fertilizer, and pesticides
run-offs.  An explanation of each parameter is as
  1. pH  - Indicates whether the water is acidic or basic; the
    acceptable range is 6-9, with 7 being neutral.  Below a pH of 6,
    the acidic water may cause an off taste and corrosion of the
    water supply system.  Above a pH of 9, the basic water may taste
    bitter and enhance scale  
  2. Conductivity  - Indicates the level of salt in the water.  Sources
    include sewage, road salting in winter, or seawater in ground
    water.  High levels cause altered taste and scale in pipes; 250
    mg/L as sodium chloride is the upper EPA
  3. Hardness - Indicates the level of calcium and magnesium in
    water.  High levels cause white scale in pipes and insoluble
    soap.  Water softening for laundry is recommended if above 85
    mg/L (ppm)                                                                                              
  4. Chloride - Is one of the major inorganic anions in water and
    usually gives a salty taste in higher concentrations.  A high
    chloride content may harm metallic pipes and structures, as
    well as growing plants.  Maximum contaminant level is 250
    mg/L (ppm)
  5. Fluoride  - A fluoride concentration of approximately 1.0 mg/L in
    drinking water effectively reduces dental cavities without harmful
    effects of health.  Fluoride may occur naturally in water or it may
    be added in controlled amounts. In rare instances, the naturally
    occurring fluoride concentration may approach 210 mg/L, such
    waters should be defluoridated.  The maximum contaminate
    level is established as 4.0 mg/L (ppm)
  6. Nitrate - Forms during normal microbiological decay.  Sources
    include biological wastes and commercial fertilizers.  The
    maximum contaminant level for nitrate (expressed as Nitogen)
    is 10 mg/L (ppm)
  7. O-Phosphate - Phosphorus occurs in natural waters and in
    wastewater solely as phosphates.  These are classified as
    orthophosphates, condensed phosphates, and organically
    bound phosphates.  Orthophosphate is the only form of
    phosphorus that is used readily by most plants and
    microorganisms.  Typical values 0.01-0.5 mg/L.
  8. Sulfate - Sulfate is widely distributed in nature and may be
    present in natural waters in concentrations ranging from a few to
    several thousand milligrams per liter.  The EPA acceptable limit
    is 250 mg/L or less.
  9. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) - As the name describes, TDS
    tests measure the amount of all dissolved solids in the water.
    These solids are primarily minerals/salts, but can also include
    organic matter.  Federal guidelines (i.e. non-mandatory
    standards) recommend that TDS levels do not exceed 500 mg/L
  10. Turbidity - Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of water - the
    cloudier the water, the greater the turbidity. Turbidity in water is
    caused by suspended matter such as clay, silt, and organic
    matter and by plankton and other microscopic organisms that
    interfere with the passage of light through the water (American
    Public Health Association, 1998). Turbidity is closely related to
    total suspended solids (TSS), but also includes plankton and
    other organisms.
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