Why does swimming pool water taste salty?
Warning system taste buds - What causes can an increased chlorine, iron or sulfur content in drinking water have?
There are almost 10,000 taste buds in the human mouth, each of which has 50 to 100 taste cells. These can not only recognize the familiar flavors sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, but also serve as a warning system for the body.
How can you recognize chlorine, iron or sulfur in drinking water?
The easiest way to recognize chlorine is by its typical odor. Anyone who has ever been to the swimming pool knows this unmistakable smell of chlorine. However, chlorine cannot be tasted in drinking water, so an increased chlorine content in drinking water can only be recognized by means of an odor test. In contrast, iron in water can be detected through the taste buds if the drinking water tastes metallic. This metallic taste is comparable to that of blood. The most noticeable of all three substances in drinking water is probably sulfur, as the water smells strongly of rotten eggs with an increased sulfur concentration. Since it is tasteless in drinking water like chlorine, an increased concentration can only be determined by the odor test.
Why do these substances occur in tap water?
Some water suppliers in Germany use chlorine to kill bacteria, viruses and microorganisms. The smell of chlorine is particularly common when dirt is washed into groundwater and surface water, for example in the event of landslides or storms. Because then the suppliers have to disinfect the water with chlorine, which leads to an increased concentration. The iron value is too high if the line pipes are largely made of iron. As a result, iron ions get into the drinking water and cause the typical taste. Even if the iron pipes have been galvanized, the characteristic metallic taste can be determined as the zinc layer slowly dissolves over time. The sulfur compound sulfate occurs naturally in water and is odorless and not dangerous if the limit value is not exceeded. An unpleasant smell of sulfur in the water, on the other hand, can have several causes: Either there may be sulfur bacteria and hydrogen sulfide in the water supply or the cause is a chemical reaction in the hot water boiler. In this way, the sulphate can be converted into stinking hydrogen sulphide in combination with iron (for example through old fittings).
How dangerous are these substances in drinking water?
Basically, chlorine in drinking water is harmless to the human body as long as the limit value is not exceeded and the increased concentration is only temporary. If the limit values are exceeded, the water suppliers are obliged to inform the consumers. In this case, the water should no longer be drunk. In addition, a possible health risk for pregnant women and nursing mothers cannot be ruled out, even if the chlorine content is still just below the limit value. Even with iron, only an overdose is harmful to health. If the iron intake exceeds 15 mg per day, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting can occur. The human body needs sulfur for protein metabolism, which is why it is not dangerous. The situation is different with the numerous sulfur compounds. Sulphate should not exceed a value of 250 mg / l in drinking water, as it can otherwise have a laxative effect on the body and promote a change in taste. In addition, an increased sulphate content promotes another problem: the pipes corrode. This increases the risk of water pipe bursts and affects the water quality. Incidentally, hydrogen sulfide in water also has a laxative effect and is toxic in high concentrations. You can easily check whether your tap water is harmless with a water test.
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