The most common contaminants found in household water in Essex County were sodium, low pH, total coliform bacteria, copper, lead, and E. coli.
Sodium concentrations above recommended levels are most likely the result of water softeners, used to remove hardness. Sodium can have negative health effects in excess levels.
Low pH (<6.5) can occur naturally in parts of Virginia geology. pH below 6.5 was found in 31% of samples. Although not a concern in itself, low pH can be a driver of how corrosive the water is. Once the water enters the house it can result in metals such as copper and lead leaching into the water from plumbing components that contain these metals, such as brass fittings or copper pipes.
Total coliform bacteria presence is an indication that surface water may be entering a well and other more harmful microorganisms may be present. Total coliform was found in 47% of the Essex County samples. E. coli were found in 6% of the samples and are a sign that human or animal waste is entering the water supply.