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Is hard water safe? Should I get a water softener?

Hardness in drinking water is caused by two nontoxic chemicals-usually called minerals — calcium and magnesium. If either of these minerals is present in your water in substantial amounts, the water is said to be “hard,” because making a lather or suds for washing is “hard” (difficult) to do. Thus cleaning with hard water is difficult. Water containing little calcium or magnesium is called “soft” water. Water that does not contain enough calcium or magnesium may be “too soft.”

Hard water is not known to cause any adverse health effects. However, relatively softer water enhances consumer acceptability. Hardness is primarily caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium in the water. There is no well-defined distinction between hard water and soft water. In general, hardness values of less than 75 mg/L as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) represent soft water, and values above 150 mg/L CaCO3 represent hard water.

For more information, see the publication, "Enhanced Coagulation and Enhanced Precipitative Softening Guidance Manual:" http://www.epa.gov/safewater/mdbp/coaguide.pdf

With additional questions, you may contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline toll free at 1-800-426-4791 to speak with an Information Specialist, Monday - Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

The Hotline is closed on Federal holidays (except Veterans Day) and the day after Thanksgiving.

The Hotline provides recorded messages in English and Spanish 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Bilingual service is available. An introductory telephone message tells Spanish callers to leave a detailed message.

You can also write to The Safe Drinking Water Hotline:

          Safe Drinking Water Hotline 
          4606M 
          1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. 
          Washington, D.C. 20460

You may also contact the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water:

Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (4601)
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460-0003

Phone: 202-564-3750
Fax: 202-564-3753

Frequent Questions: http://safewater.supportportal.com/

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 23002-18984
  • Date Created: 9/7/2005
  • Last Modified Since: 10/29/2014
  • Viewed: 2564

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