Treating Water with a Floor Cleaner?

Posted by Jeff Wahl on 6/20/2018
Treating Water with a Floor Cleaner?

Over the years I have experienced many interesting situations with water quality and testing. This example is definitely at the top of the list and raises serious concerns about water safety how water testing is perceived. As part of routine water test, I showed up at a residence to take a sample for bacterial analysis. After running the tap for a couple of minutes, there was a distinct chemical smell which did not diminish as the tap ran. Curious, I asked if chlorine had been used to disinfect the piping prior to my arrival. To my surprise, the individual indicated that they had put "a little pine floor cleaner in the water" as they did not have any chlorine on hand to disinfect the piping.

Floor Cleaner in WaterAfter informing them that this was not an acceptable procedure and recommending against any consumption of the water, they still wanted to complete the test. Since the owner was responsible for water quality, I had no means to object and the cleaner was still present in the water sample when it was transported to the laboratory for bacterial testing. The test was completed for E-coli and coliform bacteria with the result of no evidence of bacterial contamination. The cleaner was never discovered in the water sample as it was never tested for. This type of bacterial testing is routinely completed at provincial health units and as part of real estate transactions for the potability requirement in legal transactions. 

Pine scented floor cleaners typically contain ingredients such as C10 Alcohol Ethoxylates, Glycolic Acid, Methylisothiazolinone, Octylisothiazolinone, Sodium C14-17 Sec-Alkyl Sulfonate, Caramel, Water and Fragrances. This is a list of dyes, pigments, fragrances, perfumes, preservatives and cleaning agents. While effective at cleaning it should have no place in a water supply and is not an approved disinfectant for water.

This example boldly illustrates that bacterial water testing, while very important is not a "catch all" test which provides an assurance that the water is safe for consumption free from all contaminants. It is important to remember that Pine Cleaner is not the problem in this example as it was used for something it was never intended for. Consider though where it goes once it goes down the drain to the septic system, percolates through the field bed and enters the groundwater supply. There is no municipal treatment system to monitor incoming water quality in the homeowners or neighbours well the next time they turn on the tap.

Before you drink your next glass of water, consider the water source and make an educated choice.


Volume 2 – Issue 4 Wahl H2O - Educating Through Awareness
Copyright 2018 Jeff Wahl – Wahl Water | All Rights Reserved
Contact Jeff via email jeff@wahlwater.com

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