Lab Report: Assessing Water Contamination and Quality

Categories: Chemistry



All flourishing, healthy and thriving communities all have one thing in common and that is clean water, free of harmful contaminants because our bodies depend on clean, pure water to survive. As maintained in Mishra, S., & Nandeshwar, S. (2013), “Water is crucial for the well-being of people. Due to industrialization, growing population, illiteracy the provision of safe drinking water will undergo global indust in near future”(pg. 599, para 5). In view of the fact that many diseases and viruses can be transmitted though water, dirty/contaminated water is extremely hazardous and it negatively impacts our health and the health of all living things.

Water quality is influenced naturally with climate changes for instance, and by our actions. Unfortunately we don’t clearly see the immense damages that our negligent behavior is causing. In turn it leads us to falsely assume that water must be resistant to pollution damage and that we have an everlasting supply of clean, drinkable water at our disposal.

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This is why we should all try to create awareness on water contamination, educate ourselves and others in our community to recognize and accept the fact that water contamination threatens our health, our lives and consequently our existence. Water quality research is very important to our society because it gives us insight on contamination issues, brings up awareness and allows us to learn preventative measures. As stated in Broderick, K. (2008), “The importance of process and participation for adaptive management suggests that success can be judged in terms of learning outcomes” (pg.

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303, para 1). Our drinking water can be contaminated and we might not even realize it, because of all the contaminants that are transported through water regular evaluation of septic systems should be required in all towns/counties around the country. As stated in Gunnarsdottir, M. J., Gardarsson, S. M., & Andradottir, H. O. (2013), “Drinking water contamination, leading to waterborne diseases, is a recurrent event worldwide.

A recent study established that more than one out of every three water borne outbreaks in affluent nations was caused by sewage contamination in ground water” (pg. 1114, para 2-3). In this study, drinking water was tested and indeed it did show signs of contamination testing positive for norovirus. Therefore demanding periodic septic systems evaluations in every town should be mandated.


How do we know if our drinking water is in fact contaminated? What can we do to prevent our water from harming our family members? These are just a couple of concerns and questions that you may ask yourself. The purpose is to inform society of the importance of having a supply of clean, free of contaminants running water in their community. Additionally, to be able to recognize the significance of raising awareness on water, for instance to be aware of what helps maintain or improve the quality of water and what environmental and human behaviors puts the quality of our water at risk for contamination. In view of the fact that we depend on water for survival, water pollution is an environmental issue that shouldn’t be looked over.


Hypotheses Experiment #1:

Oil hypothesis = the water would probably change consistency, probably thicken up and change color Vinegar hypothesis = the water would probably stay the same color if the vinegar is white but there will be a change in smell Laundry detergent hypothesis = the water will change in consistency and would probably have suds/bubbles, smell and color (if detergent is colored) would also be altered.

Hypotheses Experiment #2:

When I tried to filtrate the water to remove the contaminants, I am not completely successful because the water is not 100% contaminant free since the water has a rancid smell.

Hypotheses Experiment #3:

If bottled water is supposed to be free of contaminants, then bottled water should contain significantly less contaminants than tap water because that is why bottled water is sold to the public.

Materials and Methods

Experiment #1: Effects of Groundwater Contamination

In order to know if soil is capable of actually removing contaminants from our drinking water I used three ordinary items that one way or another end up dissolving and polluting our water supply they are oil, vinegar and laundry detergent. Aside from using the three pollutants I used a permanent marker for labeling, soil, a funnel, cheesecloths and of course water. First I labeled a total of eight beakers and divided them into two groups of four. I filled four beakers (#1-4) with 100 ml of water then I added to beakers #2-4 with 10 ml, oil, vinegar and detergent, after mixing what I incorporated into the water I watched to see if any physical changes occurred and smelled the solution. I noted what I observed for each beaker and proceeded with the experiment. Next I lined the funnel with cheesecloth and placed 60 ml of soil in it. I took beaker #5 and poured the contents of beaker #1 into the cheesecloth lined and soil covered funnel and I let it stand for about one minute and observed what happened to the water after it was filtered. I performed this same process for the rest of the beakers.

Experiment #2: Water Treatment

To determine if a filtering method is as effective as it is believe to be. The essential materials that I used in this experiment were potting soil, sand activated charcoal, gravel, alum, funnel, cheesecloth, bleach, and a stopwatch. First I made a solution of 100 ml soil and 200 ml water and this was labeled as the contaminated water of which 10 ml was set aside. I let the solution sit and lined a funnel with cheesecloth and poured some sand, activated charcoal, and gravel. Next I poured in some clean water for a number of four times and this is how I solidified the filter. I poured in some of the contaminated water into the filter after five minutes it was considered as filtered water and a couple of drops of bleach were added to the water as well. Now it was time to make a comparison between the water that I just manually filtered with the 10 ml of contaminated water I had set aside and noted the differences.

Experiment #3: Drinking Water Quality

In this experiment I tested the water quality of two different types of bottled water and water from the tap. I used Dasani and Fiji brands as my bottled water and water from the tap. Ammonia, chloride, 4 in 1 test strips, phosphate and iron test strips and most importantly a stopwatch. I used all of the test strips I was provided with in the different types of water and recorded my findings. Some of the strips I used tested for ammonia, chloride, phosphate and iron in both bottled and tap waters.


0 mg/L ammonia and chloride were found in both bottled and tap water. In the 4 in 1 test strips tap water had a ph of 2, alkalinity 0,2 mg/L, chlorine 40 mg/L, hardness of 0 mg/L, phosphate 0 ppm and iron 0 ppm. Dasani bottled water had a ph level of 1, alkalinity, chlorine and hardness all measured 0 mg/L and phosphate and iron both measured 0 mg/L. Fiji bottled water had a ph of 8, alkalinity measured 10.0 mg/L, chlorine measured 40 mg/L, hardness 120 mg/L, phosphate measured 50 mg/L and iron 0 mg/L.



The hypothesis in experiment #1 was confirmed because after all of my observations the water mixed with the contaminants did react the way I envisioned they would. Changes in smell, color and composition occurred when I mixed water with each of the three contaminants and even after filtration contamination was still present. Disposing of contaminants such as oil should be done so correctly. Hypothesis #2 was confirmed because I predicted correctly when I stated that the water was going to have traces of contamination even if it was filtered. However, I’m going to have to deny hypothesis #3, I was wrong when I thought that bottled water was more likely to be less contaminated then tap water. When bottled water Fiji showed to have more contaminants then tap water with a higher phosphate, ph, alkalinity, hardness and the same amount of chlorine as tap water I knew that my hypotheses was wrong.


The billion dollar bottled water industry suggests that bottled water is the best option however in my personal opinion and after performing experiment #3 I don’t think it’s worth it to buy bottled water. Considering that there isn’t much of a a difference between bottled water Dasani and tap water, plus bottled water Fiji even showed to have higher contaminants than tap water. For example, it had phosphate 50 ppm while tap water had 0 ppm. As stated in Potera, C. (2002), “Over half of Americans drink bottled water spending 240-10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they do for tap water, a trend largely fueled by the belief that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water. Is the cost worth it? Controversial reports from the World Wide Fund for Natrure (WWF) in Gland, Switzerland, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Washington, DC, say no” (pg. 76, para 1).

Variables and Future Experiments:

In Experiment #1 Effects of Groundwater Contamination the possible factors that could have possibly affected my results would be the timing. For instance, if I had waited a little bit more instead of smelling and observing immediately when I mixed the water with the detergent, oil and vinegar could it have made a difference? I could control this by waiting the ideal time and carefully timing everything with a stopwatch. I can also test this by doing the experiment and waiting at different times, for instance I can wait one minute, three minutes and five minutes. With experiment #1 I was able to recognize that contaminants that seep into the water are capable of causing consequences that can possibly affect our health.

In Experiment #2 Water Treatment, the outcome indicated that filtered water isn’t 100% free of contaminants. Perhaps if I extended the filtration process the contaminated water might have been clearer. Some possible factors that might’ve affected the final result would be how contaminated the tap water in my area is and the state of health that I was in. For instance, if I had a cold my sense of smell would not be as potent as they would be if I were cold-free. I could control this in the future by first investigating if my town’s tap water isn’t extremely contaminated. Also, if I was sick I could ask someone else to smell the solution to get more accurate results.

In Experiment #3 we were able to determine that bottled water isn’t as safe and healthy as it is perceived to be. The possible factor that could’ve affected the accuracy of the results is the timing, if I went over/under the time that was indicated to check the strip for the end result. I could control this by being attentive and careful and making use of the stopwatch that was provided. We know that contaminants are present in our water, so we consume it daily. Is it harmful or irrelevant? We can test this by giving groups of people the same water (tap water from their town) for a predetermined amount of time and then evaluate them. Does one group have more energy than the other? Is anyone experiencing any discomfort? dIf so, how could you control for these in the future? You should also propose some new questions that have arisen from your results and what kind of experiment might be proposed to answer these questions.


The key point of experiment #1 is that we should be more cautious with the way we discard our food and products because they can be contaminating our drinking water. In experiment #2 the key point is there is a big difference between contaminated and treated water, the filtration process is five steps long and even then contaminants may still be present. In experiment #3 the key point for me was that tap water isn’t as bad and unsafe as it is perceived to be, the bottled water franchise is definitely deceiving. The main message that I would like people to have from this report is that they can make a difference and that by simply changing one of their behaviors and making it more “greener”, this possibly can make a difference in their water quality.


  • Broderick, K. (2008). Adaptive Management for Water Quality Improvement in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments: Learning on the Edge. Geographical Research, 46(3), 303-313. doi:10.1111/j.1745-5871.2008.00525.x
  • Gunnarsdottir, M. J., Gardarsson, S. M., & Andradottir, H. O. (2013). Microbial contamination in groundwater supply in a cold climate and coarse soil: case study of norovirus outbreak at Lake Mývatn, Iceland. Hydrology
    Research, 44(6), 1114-1128. doi:10.2166/nh.2013.076
  • Mishra, S., & Nandeshwar, S. (2013). A study to assess water source sanitation, water quality and water related practices at household level in rural Madhya Pradesh. National Journal Of Community Medicine, 4(4), 599-602.
  • Potera, C. (2002). The Price of Bottled Water. Environmental Health Perspectives, 110(2), A 76. SCI207.W2.LabReportingForm
Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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Lab Report: Assessing Water Contamination and Quality. (2016, Mar 13). Retrieved from

Lab Report: Assessing Water Contamination and Quality essay
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