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 (Enhanced Coagulation and Enhanced Precipitative Softening Guidance Manual, EPA815-R-99-012, May 1999).
This information comes from the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Frequently Asked Questions Database:
http://safewater.supportportal.com/. You can submit further questions here as well.
For more information on this topic, you may 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
The Safe Drinking Water Hotline can provide additional information. They can be contacted at:
Speak with an Information Specialist Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, excluding Federal holidays, except Veteran's Day.
The Hotline is open on Veteran's Day but closed the day after Thanksgiving.
Voicemail messages can be left in English and Spanish after business hours.
Safe Drinking Water Hotline
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460
Frequent questions & online comment form:
Additionally, the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) may be able to provide free publications about water issues. NSCEP is EPA's premier site for accessing EPA publications. You can search and retrieve, download, print and/or order EPA publications free of charge from this site. NSCEP also features useful links to other sources for obtaining publications. A detailed Users Guide is available to assist you with searching and locating the publications you require.
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- Topic #: 23002-18984
- Date Created: 9/7/2005
- Last Modified Since: 2/5/2014
- Viewed: 1207