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Water Testing

Understanding your trace metals analysis results

​​​​​​​​​​​The Alberta Centre for Toxicology tests drinking water to make sure it’s safe to drink. They use the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality set by Health Canada to report levels of trace metals in drinking water that can be harmful to your health. To understand your drinking water trace metals analysis results, use the information below.

Depending on the metal, the guidelines that are used to test your water can be based on health and safety (maximum acceptable concentration), effects like taste and smell (aesthetic objective), or impacts on water systems (operational guidance values).

Maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) is the highest amount of a metal in drinking water that is safe for a person to drink. This value is set to protect an average person from getting sick based on the average amount of water we drink.

Aesthetic objective (AO) looks at metals that can change the taste, smell, and look of your drinking water. The AO is used to decide if people will use or drink the water.

Operational guidelines (OG) are followed when a metal in the water may affect water treatment, damage pipes, or damage plumbing fixtures. OG values are meant for large water treatment systems and do not normally apply to private well water supplies.

Drinking water test results

If your water test shows high levels of any of the following metals, contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health​. They can give you information about treatment devices for your home water supply.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about metals in your drinking water and if they could affect your heath.

Chromium 6 (VI)

​The following metals aren’t included in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

  • beryllium
  • cobalt
  • molybdenum
  • nickel
  • silver
  • thallium
  • titanium
  • vanadium

At this time, Health Canada has not found that these metals are related to any health concerns. Alberta Health Services collects information about these trace metal levels to better understand if they get into our drinking water from natural causes or from industrial acti​vity.

Current as of: November 19, 2021

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta