Sulphate in Drinking Water

What is sulphate?

Sulphates are salts or esters of sulphuric acid that occur naturally in minerals. The salts contain the sulphate ion as an anion. Sulphates are the most crucial mineral compounds for many metallic elements. Calcium sulphate (gypsum) and magnesium (Epsom salt) are the most common minerals. You can have your tap water tested for sulphate at companies like IVARIO. Sulphate is not the only parameter that is tested for.

How does sulphate get into drinking water?

Most sulphates are highly soluble in water and occur in groundwater in various concentrations. In coal mining areas, opencast mines can increase sulphate levels in the groundwater. To extract the coal, the groundwater is sometimes lowered 100 metres and thus comes into contact with pyrite. The pyrite oxidises, producing sulphate and iron ochre. When the groundwater rises again, the minerals are flushed into the groundwater. 

What are the consequences of sulphate in drinking water?

An increased sulphate content in the water causes damage to the pipes and fittings. Pipes made of copper are also affected by this. The inner layer is destroyed, and localised pitting corrosion can occur. Since localised corrosion is difficult to detect in the early stages, it is often noticed when water damage occurs. 

Sulphate is generally not classified as toxic for the human organism. It is even essential for life because it is involved in building proteins. These are necessary to grow and consolidate cartilage substance and skin, hair and nails. In addition, sulphate stimulates the flow of bile and thus aids digestion. However, too high concentrations in drinking water tend to have a laxative effect. So-called osmotic diarrhoea in babies can already be triggered by consuming water with a sulphate content of 500 mg/l. Too much sulphate in your tap water can cause diarrhoea. Too much sulphate in tap water also harms its taste – it becomes bitter.

Sulphate in drinking water: Who is responsible??

According to the Drinking Water Regulations, there is no specific limit for sulphate in drinking water in the UK. However, water companies in the UK can monitor sulphate levels in drinking water and take action to ensure that drinking water meets recognised standards for drinking water quality.

Private well operators, in particular, should have their water tested for sulphates. A water test for well water by an accredited laboratory can provide clarity.

Sulphate in the water: What to do?

If a water analysis carried out by you has determined that your water is contaminated with sulphate, special filters can be used. These remove the sulphate from the water, thus protecting your health and preventing corrosion at the same time. This is an effective way to avoid economically expensive consequential damage.

Is your water contaminated with too much sulphate? Only a laboratory water test can tell. Have your water tested here.

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