Water Terms Glossary

Water Terms Glossary

Adsorption: Adsorption is a chemical process in which an ionic filter media is use. The filter attracts water contaminants and encourages these contaminants to break their bond with the water molecules.

Alachlor: Alachlor is an odorless, colorless solid, used as an herbicide for grasses and other broadleaf plants. Ingestion of Alachlor in drinking water can increase risk of cancer and cause liver and/or kidney damage.

Atrizine: Atrizine is a white, solid crystalline compound. It is currently the most widely used pesticide chemical. Ingestion of Atrizine can cause cancer and damage the cardiovascular system.

Benzene: Benzene is a colorless, aromatic liquid that is widely used in producing rubber, plastics, and other synthetic materials. Ingestion of Benzene can lead to cancer and/or chromosome aberrations.

Chlorine: Chlorine is a yellowish, poisonous gas with a pungent odor, widely used as a disinfectant in drinking water. Ingestion of chlorine can lead to bladder, rectal, and/or breast cancer.

Cryptosporidium: Cryptosporidium is a protozoan microbiological contaminant that is resistant to the disinfecting capabilities of chlorine. Ingestion of cryptosporidium generally leads to gastrointestinal illness.

Cysts: Cysts are chlorine-resistant microorganisms. When ingested in drinking water, they most commonly cause gastrointestinal illness, accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps.

Lead: Lead is a metal contaminant that occurs in drinking water as a result of the corrosion of pipes in a plumbing system. Ingestion of lead can cause severe developmental delays in children and kidney failure and/or stroke in adults.

Lindane: Lindane is a white, crystalline powder that is commonly used as a chemical in pesticides. Ingestion of Lindane can result in liver and/or kidney damage.

MCLG: MCLG stands for the maximum contaminant level goal, as set by the EPA. The MCLG is the amount of a particular contaminant that may be present in drinking water before any adverse health effects will occur.

MTBE: MTBE is a chemical compound, typically used as a fuel oxygenate or additive to unleaded gasoline. The specific health risks of MTBE are currently pending EPA investigation.

pH: pH is the measure of the general acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 being neutral.

Phthalate: Phthalate is a chemical typically used in the production of plastic materials. When ingested in water, phthalate can lead to cancer, miscarriage, premature birth, and asthma.

Redox: Redox, or reduction-oxidation, is a process in which an exchange of electrons occurs between two chemical elements. Reduction refers to the loss of an electron while oxidation is the acquisition of an electron.

SOCs: Synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs) are man-made chemicals that can make their way into drinking water. Ingestion of SOCs in drinking water has been linked to at least four types of cancer.

TCE: TCE is a liquid chemical, similar to chloroform, that is often used as a degreasing agent. Ingestion of TCE in drinking water can lead to problems with the liver and increased risk of cancer.

THMs: THMs are chemicals that occur in drinking water as a byproduct of water chlorination. They are highly carcinogenic and can affect nervous system, kidney, and liver functioning.

VOCs: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) refer to a large number of chemicals that can occur in drinking water as a result of human industry. These chemicals can cause cancer and affect liver and kidney functioning when ingested in drinking water.


Ilonka Hofmann