Water is one of the fundamental compounds, to such an extent that humans depend on it for survival. That is why it’s of vital importance to ensure its availability and quality.
Water is considered potable and suitable for human consumption and use when it meets specific parameters. Although its natural chemical composition should meet these requirements, this isn’t always the case due to various factors that can alter them.
Certain human activities such as industrial and agricultural activities, pollution in large cities or river discharges can cause large areas of contamination in water, making it lose or alter its natural composition, altering its chemical and biological parameters, and therefore being a risk to health.
That’s why water analysis can be of vital importance to determine the potability and quality of water for human use and consumption.
What is water analysis?
Water analysis is a chemical laboratory procedure by which the composition and chemical, physical, and even sensory characteristics of water are determined.
The only real and safe way to control and certify whether water is suitable is by performing an analysis based on a sample of the liquid. This analysis is based on parameters that allow certify its quality.
This analysis should be performed by an accredited laboratory, based on parameters that cover both biological and chemical physical characteristics. Through these studies, the quality, healthiness, and potability of the water can be evaluated, depending on the intended use, that is to say, the quality criteria aren’t the same for water intended for consumption as for water for industrial use, for example.
Water control parameters
To determine the quality of water, it’s based on certain parameters. These will vary depending on both the origin of the water sample and the intended use, so that the minimum quality that must be considered suitable can be determined.
The wide variety of circumstances and uses that water can have makes it essential that the analysis is carried out by an accredited laboratory, with the necessary knowledge to ensure a correct diagnosis.
There are various types of water analysis, which can be classified into various groups.
Physico-chemical analysis of water
This is one of the most important analyses. With this system, the quality of water that has suffered some type of chemical spill will be determined, in addition to determining the suitability of the water for agricultural irrigation, use for industries or for drinking water intended for the urban supply network.
Among the parameters that are determined, we find the toxicity of the water, where a global evaluation is made to check if there are any toxic elements in the water. It’s very common that components that alone aren’t harmful, in combination with others become harmful.
Another of the essential parameters to analyze in this type of study is the total phosphorus. Phosphorus is a natural and very important element for ecosystems, but together with nitrogen, it’s the main cause of the eutrophication of the waters. When we find high levels of this substance in water, it’s usually due to leaks of phosphate fertilizers used in agriculture.
It’s also very useful to determine the hardness of the water. This study is the one that determines the concentration of magnesium, calcium, strontium and barium in the water. These elements when we find them in the water have a natural origin, for example, in the Iberian Peninsula, there are areas with water with a high degree in lime, as there are many areas with highly calcareous soils.
There are many other parameters that are basic to analyze to determine their non-presence, or even simply determine that the level of presence doesn’t exceed what is appropriate. The existence of detergents, which can be given by the use of water in industries such as iron and steel, chemical or wine, or oils and fats, very common in industrial wastewater, can be indicative of improper spills.
Sensory analysis of water
This type of study is specific to potable water. Its main task is to determine the types of water, as well as their trends and flavors. To perform it, experts with specific training must carry it out in order to be part of the study. Although it’s very useful for industries such as the wine industry, it isn’t a necessary analysis for the treatment and potability of water.
Water sample collection for analysis
The timing of the water sample collection is also very important and determining for its subsequent analysis.
Before collecting, it’s important to take into account various factors to ensure that the sample is in optimal conditions to be representative of the quality that is intended to be tested:
- Which parameters will be analyzed in the laboratory.
- Parameters that must be analyzed in situ.
- Whether the sample to be collected will be simple or composite.
- The volume of the sample that will be collected.
- Preservation of the sample form collection to analysis.
The importance of performing proper water analysis
As we’ve seen, water can contain many elements that can be harmful to our health. But at the same time we know that water is one of the most essential goods, which makes it so important to ensure its quality.
At CALITEC, we are prepared to perform water analysis to determine its quality and composition.