Man-made Inorganic Water Contaminants

Man-made inorganic contaminants in drinking water represent a very broad spectrum of pollutants that adversely affect the health of people and wildlife worldwide. Chemicals, radiation, and byproducts of the water purification process are commonly classified as inorganic contaminants and this article will briefly explore how these get into drinking water and the effects that they have on our health.


Man-made inorganic chemicals are metals, salts, and other compounds that do not contain carbon. Some of these occur naturally in the rock and soil, but the most dangerous and persistent inorganic chemicals are those that we add to the environment through carelessness and runoff from industrial facilities. Some of the most dangerous chemicals include:


The surface of the earth is bombarded at all times by solar radiation from the sun, but the most hazardous forms of radiation contamination result from leaking barrels of spent nuclear fuel from power plants and occasionally, the venting of radiation from a nuclear power plant accident. Exposure to radiological contaminants, also known as radionuclides, greatly increases your risk of many different cancers, especially cancers of the thyroid gland, and leukemia.

Byproducts of Water Purification

These byproducts are formed when water purification disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with natural compounds in the water. The four main disinfection byproducts are:


The health effects of man-made inorganic water contaminants vary from well known, in the case of most chemicals, to not-so-well-known, in the cases of disinfection byproducts and radiation. However, what is known is that unless we take steps now to reduce the levels of all kinds of pollutants in our air, water, and soil, we are setting ourselves up for much larger and catastrophic health problems not far down the road.