Summary of the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines

*MAC= Maximum Acceptable Concentration
*OG=Operational Guideline (treated water)
*AO= Aesthetic Objective
*NA= Not Regulated

ParameterDefinition/Health ConcernsCommon sourceGuideline
(MAC*/OG*/AO*)
> Microbiological
Total ColiformsType of Bacteria that are present in the digestive system of animals and humansHuman and animal feces, naturally occurring in water, soil and plantsMAC <1
E.coliType of Bacteria that are present in the digestive system of animals and humansHuman and animal fecesMAC <1
> Metals
AluminumType of metal/ no consistent evidence that Aluminum causes diverse health effects in humansAluminum salts used as coagulants at water treatment plants, naturally occurringOG<1 mg/L
AntimonyType of metal/ Microscopic changes in organs and tissuesNaturally occurring soil runoff, industrial effluents, leaching from pipes MAC=0.006 mg/L
ArsenicType of metal/Carcinogenic Naturally occurring, released from mining or Industrial effluents MAC=0.01 mg/L
BariumType of metal/increases blood pressure, cardiovascular disease Naturally occurring; releases or spills from industrial usesMAC=1 mg/L
BoronType of metal/ Reproductive effects Naturally occurring; leaching or runoff from industrial useMAC=5 mg/L
CadmiumType of metal/ kidney damage and softening of boneLeaching from galvanized pipes, solders or black polyethylene pipes, industrial and municipal wasterMAC=0.005 mg/L
CalciumType of metalNaturally occurringNA*
ChromiumType of metal/skin irritation Naturally occurring, releases or spills from industrial usesMAC=0.05 mg/L
CobaltType of metalNaturally occurringNA
CopperType of metal ,essential element in human metabolism Naturally Occurring, leaching from copper piping AO ≤ 1 mg/L
IronType of metalNaturally occurring, landfill leaching, Sewage effluentsAO ≤ 0.3 mg/L
LeadType of metal/ Neurobehavioral effects in infants and children under the age of 6, Anemia, classified as a carcinogen to humansLeaching from plumbing (pipes, solder, brass fittings and lead service lines)MAC=0.01 mg/L
MagnesiumType of metalNaturally occurringNA
ManganeseType of metalNaturally occurringAO: ≤ 0.05 mg/L
MercuryType of metal/ neurological symptoms Released from industrial spills, waste disposal, agricultural pesticides drainageMAC=0.001 mg/L
MolybdenumType of metalNaturally occurringNA
NickelType of metalNaturally occurringNA
PotassiumType of metalNaturally occurringNA
SeleniumType of metal/ chronic selenosis symptoms following high exposuresNaturally occurring, released from coal minesMAC=0.05 mg/L
SilverType of metalNaturally occurringNA
SodiumType of metalNaturally occurring, seawater intrusion , sewage and industrial effluents, sodium base water softenersAO ≤200 mg/L
Uranium Type of metal/May cause kidney effectsNaturally occurring, mill tailings, erosion from nuclear industry and coal combustion, and phosphate fertilizersMAC=0.02 mg/L
ZincType of metalNaturally occurring industrial and domestic emissions, leaching from galvanized pipes, hot water tanks and brass fittings AO ≤5 mg/L
> Anions
ChlorideNaturally occurring AnionNaturally occurring (seawater intrusion), dissolved salt deposits, oil well operations, sewage and irrigation drainage AO ≤250 mg/L
Fluoride Naturally occurring Anion/ beneficial in preventing dental decayNaturally occurring (rock and soil) MAC=1.5 mg/L
NitrateNaturally occurring Anion/ classified as possible carcinogen, may cause Methaemoglobinaemia and effects on thyroid gland function in bottle fed infants Naturally occurring, leaching or runoff from fertilizer, manure, and domestic sewage. May also be produced from excessive amounts of ammonia or nitrification in the distribution systemMAC=10 mg/L
NitriteNaturally occurring Anion/ classified as possible carcinogen, may cause Methaemoglobinaemia and effects on thyroid gland function in bottle fed infants Naturally occurring, leaching or runoff from fertilizer, manure, and domestic sewage. May also be produced from excessive amounts of ammonia or nitrification in the distribution system MAC=1 mg/L
SulfateNaturally occurring minerals overtime are dissolved and released into groundwater/May cause diarrhea and dehydrationIndustrial wasteAO ≤500 mg/L
> General Parameters
Alkalinity Measurement of CaCO3 mineral in water, once precipitated they can form into scale which can block pipes and affect the performance of household itemsNaturally occurring (rock erosion and runoff from soil)NA
Colour Measurement of the apparent colour of water which is compared to a series of standardsNaturally occurring organic substance, metals, and industrial wasteAO ≤15 CU
Conductivity Measures concentration of ions in water. Conductive ions come from dissolved salts, chlorides, sulfides and carbonate compounds NA
Cyanide Carbon-nitrogen chemical/ short term effect: rapid breathing and neurological effects ; long term effects: weight loss, thyroid effects, and nerve damageIndustrial and mining effluent, released from organic compoundsMAC=0.2 mg/L
pHMeasurement of the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity in water at a give temperature__6.5-8.5
TurbidityMeasurement of cloudiness or haziness of waterNaturally occurring particles OG <0.1 NTU
> Calculated Parameters
HardnessMeasurement of CaCO3__NA
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)Measurement of dissolved solids in water. TDS above 500mg/L results in scaling in pipes, heaters, boilers and other household appliancesNaturally occurring solids, urban and agricultural runoff, industrial wastewaterAO ≤ 500 mg/L
*MAC= Maximum Acceptable Concentration
*OG=Operational Guideline (treated water)
*AO= Aesthetic Objective
*NA= Not Regulated
1- Source:
Health Canada: Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines- http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/water-eau/drink-potab/guide/index-eng.phphttp://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/water-eau/drink-potab/guide/index-eng.php
 

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