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Water Terminology / Glossary

Adsorption:
A chemical process in which water contaminants are attracted to a filter and encouraged to break their bond with the water molecules.


Alachlor:
One of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. Alachlor is a odorless white solid used to control weeds in corn and soybean fields. Long-term exposure to high levels of Alachlor can cause damage to liver, kidney, spleen, lining of nose and eyelids and can increase risk of cancer.


Atrazine:
Currently the most widely used herbicide to control weeds especially in corn crops. Exposure to high levels of Atrazine can cause cancer and damage the cardiovascular system.


Benzene:
A colorless, aromatic liquid used to create plastics, rubber, resins and synthetic fabrics. A known carcinogen, Benzene can lead to cancer and chromosome aberrations.


Brine:
Water that's discharged by an RO unit.


Chlorine:
A poisonous odorous gas widely used to kill harmful bacteria in drinking water supply. Ingestion of Chlorine can cause bladder, rectal and breast cancer.


Condensation:
The process of water vapor in the air turning into liquid water. Water drop on the outside of a cold glass of water are condensed water. Condensation is the opposite process of evaporation.


Cryptosporidium:
An intestinal protozoan parasite resistant to chlorine. It infects the intestines and causes diarrhea, nausea and cramps. Can be removed through filtration.


Cysts:
A group of chlorine-resistant microorganisms that when ingested can cause gastrointestinal illness.


Drip Irrigation:
A common irrigation method where pipes or tubes filled with water slowly drip into crops. Drip irrigation is a low-pressure method of irrigation and less water is lost to evaporation than high-pressure spray irrigation.


Effluent:
Water that flows from a sewage treatment plant after it has been treated.


Freshwater:
Water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids; generally, more than 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is undesirable for drinking and many industrial uses.


Giardiasis:
A Disease that results from an infection by the protozoan paraiste Giardia, caused by drinking water that is either not filters or not chlorinated.


Granular Carbon:
Granular carbon is activated charcoal in small granular form. Filter elements are made by packing the granules into a housing.


Hardness:
A water-quality indication of the concentration of alkaline salts in water, mainly calcium and magnesium. If the water you use is "hard" then more soap, detergent or shampoo is necessary to raise a lather.


Lead:
A heavy metal that is hazardous and can be found in drinking water as a result of corroded pipes. Ingestion of lead has been known to cause brain damage.


Lindane:
A white crystalline powder used as a pesticide. Lindane is banned in California and is listed as a cancer-causing chemical.


MCLG:
Maximum Contaminant Level Goal. Specifies the maximum level of a contaminant in drinking water that will have no known or expected risk to health.


MTBE:
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether. Used in gasoline to reduce air pollution, MTBE has been known to taint drinking water from leaking underground fuel storage tanks.


National Sanitation Foundation:
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a non-profit organization that sets sanitation standards and provides product certification and education in the field of public health and safety.


Natural Resources Defense Council:
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization that seeks to protect the environment and the nation's natural resources.


Osmosis:
The movement of water molecules through a thin membrane.


pH:
Measurement of the acidity or basicity of a substance when dissolved in water. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.


Phthalate:
A plasticizer (a substance added to PVC pipes and other plastics to increase flexibility). Phthalate has been known to cause damage to the reproductive system.


Potable Water:
Water of a quality suitable for drinking


Redox:
Term referring to the reduction-oxidization potential of water. Redox tells how easily chemical reactions are taking place in a tank. A high redox value is better than a low.


Reverse Osmosis:
The process of removing salts from water using a membrane. With reverse osmosis, the product water passes through a fine membrane that the salts are unable to pass through, the salt waste (brine) is removed and disposed.


Sediment:
Usually applied to material in suspension in water or recently deposited from suspension. Applied to all kinds of deposits from the waters of streams, lakes, or seas.


Septic Tank:
A tank used to detain domestic wastes to allow the settling of solids prior to distribution. Septic tanks are used when a sewer line is not available to carry them to a treatment plant.


SOCs:
Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOCs) are manmade chemicals containing carbon and have been linked to chronic health affects.


TCE:
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a degreasing agent used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts. Ingestion of TCE can cause nervous system effects and cancer.


THMs:
Trihalomethanes (THMs) carcinogens caused as a byproduct of water chlorination. They have been known to affect nervous system, kidney and liver functions.


Underwriters Laboratories:
A non-profit organization that evaluates and classifies the health and safety risks of various materials and products.


VOCs
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that can be found in drinking water and can cause cancer and many other dangerous health effects.

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