Phosphorus tends to attach to soil particles naturally & from fertilizers (usually as phosphates) and gains access to our surface water and ground water, as runoff. Safe Home offers a few kits that provide drinking water testing for phosphorus in city water and well water supplies.

Parameter Type: Drinking Water Testing for Metals

Parameter Name: Phosphorus

What it is and Where it Comes From:

Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15. It is an essential element for the life of organisms. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. It has a concentration in the Earth’s crust of about one gram per kilogram (compare to copper at about 0.06 grams). In minerals, phosphorus generally occurs as phosphate. Most phosphates enter waterways through plants and rocks. They can also enter waterways through manmade sources, which include human sewage discharges, agricultural fertilizer runoff, manufacturing, and detergents. It can also be found in vegetable oils, fish, and poultry. In the environment, phosphorus is found as phosphates. Natural waters contain a phosphorus concentration of approximately 0.02 parts per million (ppm). Zinc or sodium orthophosphates or phosphoric acid are often added to the drinking water at public water systems as a corrosion inhibitor to prevent leaching of lead and copper from pipes and fixtures. The phosphate metal salt forms a protective coating of insoluble mineral scale on the inside of service lines and household plumbing as well as in commercial water applications and significantly reduces leaching of those metals. Drinking water testing gives you several benefits like peace of mind, identifying contaminants in your water, and insight into health concerns. Safe Home offers Laboratory drinking water testing kits for phosphorus, allowing you to collect your water sample and ship it directly to our EPA-Certified Laboratory. This platform of drinking water testing for phosphorus will give you an accurate level based on the lowest level of a parameter our instruments can detect (Method Detection Level). Safe Home drinking water testing for metals can be used for city and well water supplies. Drinking water testing should be done any time you notice a significant change in your water quality.

Health Effects:

Phosphates are safe to ingest at reasonable levels. They are important complexed components of all plant and animal-based foods that we consume because they are components of all cells. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that inorganic phosphates as food additives are GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Too much exposure can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis. 

Solutions to Contaminant Levels:

What are the next steps after drinking water testing? Coagulation and filtration using iron salts is commonly applied to reduce phosphate levels in drinking water or wastewater. The coagulation process involves adding iron or aluminum salts, such as aluminum sulphate, ferric sulphate, ferric chloride, or polymers, to the water. These chemicals are called coagulants and have a positive charge. The positive charge of the coagulant neutralizes the negative charge of dissolved and suspended particles in the water. When this reaction occurs, the particles bind together, or coagulate (this process is sometimes also called flocculation). The larger particles, or floc, are heavy and quickly settle to the bottom of the water supply. This settling process is called sedimentation. The following diagram illustrates the basic reactions and processes that occur during coagulation. The second step in a conventional water treatment system is filtration, which removes particulate matter from water by forcing the water to pass through porous media. The filtration system consists of filters with varying sizes of pores, and is often made up of sand, gravel, and charcoal. Who do I need to contact to find out more information about water quality in my area? Every community water supplier must provide an annual report to its customers, known as a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water’s source, contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water. How often does the local public water system preform drinking water testing? Frequency of drinking water testing depends on the number of people served, the type of water source, and types of contaminants. Certain contaminants are tested more frequently than others, as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act. You can find out about levels of regulated contaminants in your treated water for the previous calendar year in your annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR).

MCL’s: None
MCLG’s: None

File Under:

Drinking Water Testing - Parameter Types


Important Terms

  • MCL’s (Maximum Contaminant Levels) MCL’s are levels that set by the USEPA and are enforceable to Public Water Utilities, requiring additional treatment, when the levels are exceeded. These same guidelines should be at least considered, by owners of private wells. Some states have more strict guidelines than the USEPA. Not all parameters have MCL’s. If the parameter has an MCL, it’s listed.
  • MCLG’s (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals) MCLG’s are goals set by the USEPA that we should all strive for when consuming drinking water from any water supply. Concentrations of certain parameters (even below the MCL’s), are still not healthy for humans and animals to drink. These same guidelines should at least be be considered, by owners of private wells. Some states have more strict guidelines than the USEPA. Not all parameters have MCLG’s. If the parameter has an MCLG, it’s listed.
  • ACTION LEVELS ACTION LEVELS are a specified concentration of a respective parameter in drinking water, that is above a “treatment level” set by the USEPA. When these levels are exceeded, further treatment and monitoring is required by the respective utility who’s water violated this limit.Action Levels apply to parameter-rules such as but not limited to the Copper/Lead Rule.
  • PARTS PER MILLION (ppm) PPM is a scientific measurement which represents milligrams of the parameter being tested per liter of the respective liquid. Example: If Copper in your water supply is at a concentration of 1.00 mg/L, this is the same as saying the concentration is 1.00 ppm.
Scroll to Top