What Are Pesticides?

Pesticide is the term used that includes all chemicals that are used to kill or control pests. This includes weeds, rodents, fungi, insects and nematodes. By design they are toxic and if they are found in your drinking water, it should not be used for drinking, cooking or bathing until the pesticide is removed.

Pesticides are broken down into four main categories, with a variety of chemicals within each:

Herbicides: Used to kill or control weed growth.

Fungicides: Used to control molds and mildews.

Insecticides: Used to control insects, such as roaches or termites.

Nematocides: Used to control various types of worms.

How Do Pesticides Get Into Drinking Water?

There are a lot of ways that pesticides can enter the water supply systems

  • Normal surface water runoff can allow pesticides to make their way into lakes and reservoirs, as many pesticides are used for surface treatment on farms, nurseries and golf courses.
  • Water penetration into the ground from rain and snow melts can carry the pesticides deeper into the soil and into underground water supplies.
  • Improperly dumping of these chemicals and accidental spills can result in water contamination.
  • Excessive or improper application of pesticides can impact the drinking water.  For example improperly applying insecticides for termites on a property with a private well.

What Are The Health Effects Of Pesticides In My Drinking Water?

The health effects of pesticides are as wide ranging as the number of different chemicals used in their manufacture, as well as the amount of exposure a person has with the pesticide.

Short term high exposure can result in vomiting, stomach pain, eye irritation, acute gastrointestinal distress, headaches dizziness and even seizures. Lower level long term exposure has been tied to liver and lung cancers, genetic mutations and deformities in foetuses.

Can I Get Pesticides Out Of My Water?

If substantial contamination is found, the best solution is to sometimes to drill a deeper well or connect to a public water system if available.

For lower levels, treating or removing the source is the next option, however not always possible.

Water treatment systems are available which can remove or reduce pesticides.

  • Granulated activated carbon filters can work if they are properly installed and maintained.
  • Reverse Osmosis systems are also an option in some instances.

Always realize that your local health department can be a valuable source of information and guidance.

If you think you have pesticides in your drinking water, contact one of our specialists to discuss your water testing and treatment options.