Phosphates are compounds containing the element phosphorus, which can be found in drinking water from a variety of sources, including fertilizers, industrial discharges, and wastewater. While phosphates are not considered toxic to humans in low concentrations, they can have several implications for drinking water quality, including:
- Increased algae growth: Phosphates can act as a nutrient for algae growth in water bodies, which can cause problems such as taste and odor issues, discoloration of water, and clogging of water treatment facilities.
- Corrosion of plumbing: High levels of phosphates in drinking water can cause corrosion of plumbing fixtures, which can lead to elevated levels of lead and copper in drinking water, posing health risks.
- Eutrophication: When excess phosphates are present in surface water, they can lead to eutrophication, a process in which the excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants depletes the oxygen in the water, leading to fish kills and other ecological problems.
- Environmental pollution: Phosphates that enter water bodies can also contribute to environmental pollution, as they can cause imbalances in ecosystems and harm wildlife.
Overall, while low levels of phosphates in drinking water are not considered harmful to human health, their presence can have significant implications for water quality, ecosystem health, and infrastructure maintenance. Therefore, it is important to monitor and control phosphate levels in drinking water sources.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Phosphates: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-policy-data/phosphorus-and-water
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/phosphates.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Water-related Diseases and Contaminants in Public Water Systems: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_diseases.html
- Water Quality Association (WQA) - Phosphates in Drinking Water: https://www.wqa.org/learn-about-water/common-contaminants/phosphates