Types of Water Contaminants & The Impact of Water Toxins

What are water toxins?

Water toxins are contaminants within supplies of drinking water that can cause a range of sicknesses. Toxins can enter drinking water through a number of pathways, including being deposited into lakes, rivers and oceans where they seep into groundwater systems that flow back into wells or reservoirs used both for consumption and irrigation purposes. Toxins overflowing from landfills, animal droppings, and even corrosive pipes are other more common examples.


While they vary in nature, there are two major classes of toxins found in drinking water:


Organic Toxins

Organic toxins are all biological pollutants, such as pollen, algae, bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeast. Some examples of organic toxins commonly found in water supplies are the enteric virus (which causes diarrhea), E-coli (which causes bloody diarrhea), and Giardia Lamblia (a parasite).


Inorganic Toxins

Inorganic toxins are all man-made contaminants, including heavy metals, nitrates  and pesticides. Some examples of inorganic toxins commonly found in water supplies are arsenic, lead, aluminium, mercury and benzene. Industrial waste is a major source of organic pollutants. Chemicals may be released by industrial or mining activities or from agricultural practices such as using fertilizers containing nitrates.


Types of Drinking Water Contaminants

Within these classes, there are further distinctions we can make on the types of drinking water contaminants.


Physical Water Contaminants

These water pollutants are responsible for altering the physical makeup and appearance of our drinking water. This would include sediment or various forms of organic material that is suspended or floating within bodies of water, such as lakes, streams and rivers as a result of eroding soil.


Chemical Water Pollutants 

This form of contaminant refers to specific elements or compounds present within water, either organic in nature or man-made. This includes nitrogen, salts, bleach, metals, and even drugs meant for humans and animals.


Biological Water Pollutants

Organisms living in the water are referred to as biological contaminants, microbiological contaminants, or simply ‘microbes’. Examples include viruses, parasites, and bacteria.


Radiological Water Contaminants

These are chemical elements that hold unstable atoms due to an imbalance with their proton and neutron counts, thereby emitting a form of ionizing radiation. This includes plutonium, uranium, and cesium.


Common Water Pollutants & Contaminants


Lead poisoning is a serious condition, and one of the major sources of exposure to lead is through ingestion of contaminated water. This can occur from the heavy metal seeping from aged pipes and plumbing fixtures, made worse by corrosive water passing through.



Contamination by pathogenic organisms including viruses, bacteria or parasites can occur anywhere in the distribution system from the time it leaves the treatment plant to when it reaches your tap water at home.



Large amounts of chlorine are used for disinfecting public drinking water supplies, but small amounts remain after this process that can react with organic matter in the water to form trihalomethanes (THMs) which are carcinogenic compounds that have been linked with cancers such as bladder cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer.



A naturally occurring metallic element in the earth's crust, arsenic is also unintentionally released into our environment through various sources including smelting operations that produce metal alloys and copper wire, mining/metal processing supply or production of chemicals that are frequently used in farming and cleaning settings.



This pollutant typically comes from fertilizer runoff in agricultural areas, leaking septic systems in residential areas, and is a by-product of wastewater treatment processes.


The Impact of Toxins in Water

Until recently it was believed that these contaminants existed in our tap water at low enough levels that weren't harmful; however, new research is showing otherwise. The severity of the illnesses potentially experienced will depend on the particular toxins and pollutants ingested, as well as the quantity.


Excessive consumption of heavy metals, for example, can lead to a risk of both acute and chronic toxicity, damage to your kidney, liver and intestines, as well as developing anaemia or cancer.


Chemical exposure via drinking water also holds risks for both short and long term conditions, ranging from skin discolouration to damage to our nervous systems and organs. Consuming microbes also put us at risk of associated illnesses from ingesting viruses, bacteria and parasites, from excessive diarrhea and vomiting, high fevers, and kidney failure.


These toxins enter our bodies via our digestive tract causing inflammation in our gut lining and eventually compromising its integrity and allowing undigested particles to enter your bloodstream. Our gut is a gateway to cardiovascular and neurological diseases, after all, and so these toxins can lead to many problems such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Toxicity in our gut can also interfere with digestion and nutrient absorption, unbalancing the good bacteria within our gut, and leading to a range of issues within our immune system.


Is Your Drinking Water Safe? 

Next time you are about to pour a glass of tap water or grab a drink bottle, it is important to take a pause and question how clean your drinking water actually is. Fortunately, there are a range of water filtration systems available that can assist. The zazen Alkaline Water System, for example, not only removes the nasty chemicals polluting drinking water, but also introduces a balanced range of alkaline minerals and electrolytes providing potential health benefits.


Other Water FAQs to answer:

Can drinking water remove toxins?

Drinking water is an underrated method for detoxifying your body, as it is simply built around ensuring good and proper hydration. Dehydration plays a significant role in blocking our body repairing itself and becoming revitalised, so it is important to get the right quality and quantity of water intake into our diet on a consistent basis. In fact, drinking water that is slightly more alkaline in nature through a balanced range of alkaline minerals may also help to assist with detox symptoms.


How long does it take for water to flush out toxins?

Depending on your detoxification method, this can vary. Removing toxins from your body is a progressive and ongoing process built on a good diet of healthy foods and quality drinking water. After a few days, weeks, months and years, you will certainly notice the difference with a healthier you.


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