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Many homeowners know that they have high levels of sulfur in their water immediately due to the noticeable smell. Sulfur often causes a rotten egg smell that is unmistakable the moment that you turn the taps on. This can make it unpleasant to do anything from taking a shower to washing the dishes, but is sulfur water actually dangerous? At Atlantic Blue Water Center, we help many homeowners who have elevated levels of sulfur in the water and educate them about the truth behind sulfur in the water.

What Is Sulfur?

Sulfur and sulfates occur naturally in the environment in the soil and rocks. Eventually, these sulfates dissolve and enter the groundwater supply, which means that it often also gets into the well water and municipal water supplies. Sulfates do not produce gas and are odorless. In contrast, hydrogen sulfide gas does provide the odor that you recognize as rotten eggs. It also occurs naturally for a variety of reasons, including bacteria and rotting plant matter. In some cases, hydrogen sulfide can also arise from water heaters that have magnesium rods and wells that were drilled in shale. While there are multiple different causes of sulfur water, there’s a good chance that you want to fix it.

1.    Is Sulfur Water Hazardous?

One of the biggest concerns that homeowners have about sulfur water is whether or not it is hazardous to their health. There is no one answer to the question of whether or not sulfur in your water can make you sick. The biggest factor is the amount of sulfur that is present. If the level is too high, you might feel sick to your stomach or have stomach pain after drinking it. One of the biggest “hazards” of water that has sulfur present is that you are more likely to drink less water because of the off-putting smell. People can detect very small amounts of sulfur in the water from the smell or taste, which can decrease their water consumption and lead to many negative health effects.

2.    What Happens If There Is Too Much Sulfur in Your Water?

Providing that the levels of sulfur in your water aren’t too high, you should not experience any profound health effects. However, that doesn’t mean that there will not be any consequences. Some of the effects of sulfur in your water include:

  • Diarrhea and dehydration as a result
  • Bitter-tasting water
  • The creation of slime or sludge that can accumulate in your pipes and clog them over time
  • Reduced efficacy of bleach and other cleansers used to clean your clothing
  • Foul odor
  • Off-putting taste of the water and food made using the water
  • Corroded pipes or metals like steel, copper and iron
  • Black or yellow staining on kitchen or bathroom fixtures
  • Black or yellow tarnishing on your utensils or silverware

3.    How Can You Fix the Problem if Your Water Heater Is the Problem?

In some cases, the magnesium rods in your water heater might be the cause of your sulfur water. This means that you will need to call a plumber to have the problem fixed. In some cases, the magnesium anode can simply be removed without the need to replace your system. The water will be turned off, the system will be depressurized, the anode will be removed and the system will be restarted again. This is only a temporary solution for many homeowners, as removing the anode will decrease the lifespan of your water heater. Ideally, you will eventually replace your water heater with a new system that does not have the magnesium anode. Because hot water is more likely to contain hydrogen sulfide gas that leads to the rotten egg smell, choosing the right new water heater is essential.

4.    How Can You Fix the Problem If You Have Sulfur Water?

Finally, some people have sulfur water not due to their water heater but due to the natural contents of their local water or private well. If you have sulfur water, you should first have it tested by Atlantic Blue Water Center. We can pinpoint the precise levels of sulfur in your water and ensure that the odor and taste of sulfur are not covering up other hazards that might be present. Next, we will help guide you through the different options that can help to remove sulfur from your water.

Activated carbon filters used as part of a reverse osmosis system or other water filtration system are one great way to reduce hydrogen sulfide levels that are less than 1 mg/L. These filters need to be changed regularly depending on their size and the amount of water that you filter through them. If you have higher levels of hydrogen sulfide, using an oxidizing media filtration system like a manganese filter can help to remove it from your water. These treatments are more intensive and can get rid of sulfur water up to 6 mg/L. These systems work by changing the hydrogen sulfide gas into sulfur particles that can then be filtered out using other methods.

Depending on the severity of your sulfur water situation, we can help choose the perfect solution for you. There are many different options for you to choose from, especially if you have other contaminants or chemicals present in your water that need to be removed. Atlantic Blue Water Center is always here to help and support you however we can.

Make Sure That Your Home Water Supply Is Safe to Drink with Atlantic Blue Water Center

We provide water treatment and water softening solutions for homeowners that want a cleaner water supply and water that is free from hazardous carcinogens that can contribute to increased cancer risk. We’re also focused on providing additional education on water treatment, water quality, and issues associated with water contaminants. Call us at (410) 751-9200 to schedule your in-home water testing appointment today.