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Water Testing

Understanding your drinking water chemical test 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 chemicals in your dri​nking water, including those that can be harmful to your health. To understand your drinking water chemical ​test results, use the information be​low.

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

  • Maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) is the highest amount of a c​hemical 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 the taste, smell, and look of your drinking water. The AO is used to decide if people will use or drink the water.

If you have any questions about your dri​nking water test results, contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health​.

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

Drinking water chemical test results

Total hardness
Total dissolved solids (TDS)
Total alkalinity
Bicarbonate, carbonate, and hydroxide
Nitrite and Nitrate

Your drinking water chemical test results will also show results for conductivity, cation/anion sum, ion balance, and percentage difference. These results are only used for lab purposes.

Current as of: November 19, 2021

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services