Water Quality - 10 of 28

Water Quality FAQs - 28 Found

If the sulfur content in my well water is a little high, is it still safe to drink?

Sulfur is not regulated as a primary drinking-water contaminant, so there is no official level of sulfur that represents a threshold between healthy and unhealthy concentrations. Sulfur is required by all living things as part of their normal metabolism, so the body needs a certain amount of sulfur just to live. Any adverse effects of sulfur in drinking water appear to be related to the following issues:

  1. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is sometimes present in well water. A few tenths of a milligram of hydrogen sulfide per liter can cause drinking water to have a rotten-egg odor. While unpleasant, it is not harmful to health.
  2. High concentrations of sulfate (SO4--) may be associated with diarrhea. For this reason, and for aesthetic reasons related to taste and odor, the Environmental Protection Agency currently has a secondary drinking-water standard of 250 milligrams per liter (mg/L) sulfate. Further information on sulfate and drinking water can be found at this web site: Drinking Water Contaminants
  3. Some waters with elevated sulfate also tend to have low pH (as in acid mine drainage). The pH of water is usually checked when well water is tested. A pH between 6.5 and 8.5 is in the range recommended by EPA.

Bottom line: If you are not bothered by a rotten-egg odor, and you don't have a sulfate concentration over 250 mg/L, you should have nothing to worry about from the sulfur.


Tags: Groundwater, Disease, Rivers, Water, Health, Measurement, Quality, Chemistry