Most water contains some sodium which naturally leaches from rocks and soils. An excess of sodium in water may cause a salty taste or odor, as well as presenting long-term health effects.
Drinking Water Standard and Health Risks
Current drinking water standard for sodium is 20 milligrams per liter. Individuals on a low sodium diet due to high blood pressure, or other health problems, should consult their physician about drinking water on a daily basis which exceeds that level.
Most Americans consume as much as ten times more salt than the body requires. Excess sodium from salt in the diet increases the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. For most healthy people, a sodium level of 100 milligrams per liter of water will not substantially increase risk.
Possible Source of Contamination
Sodium contamination is most often caused by road salt runoff, road salt storage or salt water intrusion. In coastal areas, when water is removed from an underground source faster than it is replaced, sea water may be drawn into the well. Also salt spray from the seas can increase sodium in ground water.
Water softeners also increase the amount of sodium in water. A water softener replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium. If you use a softener, it is probably the cause of high sodium. Check this by taking another sample from a point before the water enters the softener. A bottle for the "Sodium Only" test is available.
Correcting the Problem
If the sodium level is caused by a water softener, you may need to change the method of treatment. One option is to soften only the hot water, so that water used for drinking and cooking will not be affected. Although costly, methods are available to remove sodium and chloride from drinking water. See the yellow pages under "Water Treatment" for the name of a water treatment company in your area.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR NEED ADVICE ON HOW TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM, CONTACT THE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING LABORATORY AT 287-1716.