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How to remove chemicals in drinking water?

How to remove chemicals in drinking water?

Estimated levels of added chemicals and by products in Australian water supplies vary from 50 to 2,000 and are added for a wide variety of purification and health related reasons, ensuring that water is fit for human consumption.


Quick Facts

  • Up to 50 chemicals are added to Australia's water supplies for a variety of purification and health purposes.
  • The most common of these chemicals are Chlorine, Fluoride and Aluminium.
  • In small amounts most of these chemicals cause no harm; however, they can be an issue at more concentrated levels.


4 Ways to Remove Chemicals from your Drinking Water

  1. Water filters
    • Carbon filters remove sediment, chlorine and other contaminants, neutralizing bad tastes and odours from your water and allowing naturally occurring and beneficial minerals to pass through to guarantee great-tasting, clear water.
  2. Distillation systems
    • Distillation systems heat water to boiling and then collect the water vapour and condense it to provide purer drinking water, removing contaminants.
  3. UV purification
    • Our patented Firewall UVC technology thoroughly purifies water preventing viruses and bacteria like Legionella, Salmonella, E. coli, Hepatitis and Rotavirus getting into the system, contaminating your drinking water and causing illness.
  4. Water softeners
    • Ion exchange is used by water softeners to reduce the amount of hardness in the water and heavy metals. They do not however protect against bacteria or viruses.


Reasons why you may find chemicals in drinking water

“Ideally, drinking water should be, clear, colourless, and well aerated with no unpalatable taste or odours. It should contain no suspended matter, harmful chemical substances or pathogenic micro-organisms”.

- The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines

What chemicals are the most common chemicals in tap water?

  • Chlorine reduces the amount of bacteria
  • Fluoride protects your oral health
  • Aluminium helps remove harmful solids or pathogens


Are there harmful chemicals in tap water?

Whilst chlorine keeps our water safe to drink, it can leave an odd smell or taste. In rare cases, consuming large amounts of this chemical has been found to be linked to reduced fertility. Some studies have also found that by-products of chlorination are associated with a slight increase in cancer risk, though these findings are not proven.

Very high levels of fluoride intake have been linked to lower IQ in children and discolouration of teeth with pitting.

Some studies have linked consumption of high levels of aluminium to the development of Alzheimer's disease, though it is uncertain whether aluminium causes Alzheimer's disease.


Potential problems with chemical by-products

It is often the by-products that are created between these chemicals, and during the water’s journey through the pipes, that pose a more serious threat to our health. As water travels through old pipes, it can collect unwanted heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and copper which can affect the taste and purity of your water.

Testing of chemicals found in drinking supplies only happens at the source, and the water that arrives in our homes and businesses could well be very different to the water at its original filtration plant.

As water travels through old pipes in the community, it can become contaminated by unwanted chemicals or heavy metals, including lead and bacteria such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

  • Lead can enter water whilst in transit via corroded pipes and can be harmful to health even at low levels. Lead builds up in the body and can cause lead poisoning. Symptoms of lead poisoning include fatigue, pain, hearing loss and developmental delay in children. Lead poisoning can take years to show symptoms – by which point health complications may be irreversible. If you’d like to know what to do if lead is in your water take a look at our article on this contaminant.
  • Giardia and Cryptosporidium are bacteria which are commonly responsible for gastro-intestinal diseases and can enter our water supplies where there are issues with sanitation.


How to remove chemicals from drinking water

If you have reason to believe that your water is contaminated, whether due to a change in colour, odour or taste, we advise you to get in touch with your local water service provider. If you are unhappy with the response received, then you should contact your local authority using the details below.


Who to contact if you suspect chemicals in drinking water

Australia’s drinking water guidelines can be found here.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Health Department can be contacted on 08 9222 2000.

Northern Australia

Northern Australia is a territory with a wide array of public bodies that serve individual regions; visit the Department of Health for the Northern Territory Government website for more information.


For contact details for The Queensland Government Department of Energy and Water Supply, follow this link.

South Australia

South Australia’s water entities are publicly owned and known SA Water; you can contact them via the SA Water contact page.

New South Wales

Contact the NSW Ministry of Health via their contact page here.


Victoria undertake an annual report of the water quality throughout the state, download the 2020-2021 report here.

Should you have concerns about your water supply in Victoria, you can contact the government’s dedicated department for their water program on 1300 761 874 (during business hours) or by email:


What else is in my water?

Learn how to treat other water contaminants with our educational resource ‘What’s in my tap water ’.