Frequently Asked Questions

What is MTBE?

by wfnblog on May 10, 2012

MTBE is the shorthand abbreviation for methyl tertiary-butyl ether, a volatile organic compound that belongs to a category known as oxygenates. Oxygenates are added to fuel to increase its oxygen content. MTBE has replaced the use of lead as an octane enhancer in gasoline throughout the United States since 1979. MTBE reduces carbon monoxide and […]


What is arsenic?

by wfnblog on May 4, 2012

Atomic number 33 on the periodic table, arsenic is a semi-metal element that is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth, as well as from agricultural and industrial activities. Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks and soil, plants and animals. It can be further released into the environment through volcanic […]


What is nitrate?

by wfnblog on April 30, 2012

Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds. Nitrate is a compound that is formed naturally when nitrogen combines with oxygen or ozone. Nitrogen itself is essential for all living things, but high levels of nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous to human health, especially for infants […]


What is chromium?

by wfnblog on April 27, 2012

Number 24 on the periodic table, chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. It is found naturally occurring in rocks, soil and volcanic dust, as well as in living plants, animals and humans. The most common forms of chromium that occur in natural sources of drinking water are trivalent chromium (chromium-3) and hexavalent chromium […]


What are cysts?

by wfnblog on April 17, 2012

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, oocsyts (commonly known as cysts) are “a stage in the life-cycle of some protozoa.” They are not bacteria or viruses, but one-celled organisms in an early phase of development, very much like a microscopic egg. Waterborne protozoan parasites, such as Cryptosporidum and Giardia lamblia are resistant to chlorine and […]


What is lead?

by wfnblog on April 5, 2012

Atomic number 82 on the periodic table, lead is represented by “Pb” in the list of elements. Lead is a soft metal used in construction of buildings, manufacture of weights and various other industrial applications. Humans have been mining and using this heavy metal for thousands of years, poisoning themselves in the process. Although lead […]


What is chlorine?

by wfnblog on March 29, 2012

Atomic number 17 on the periodic table, chlorine is a naturally occurring element that is used extensively as a disinfectant in public water treatment plants to eliminate bacteria. Chlorine has been added to disinfect drinking water since the early twentieth century, making it possible to minimize more effectively the spread of waterborne diseases. Chlorine works […]


What is sediment?

by wfnblog on March 23, 2012

One simple definition of sediment is matter suspended in a liquid that will (given time) settle to the bottom. It is naturally occurring material that is broken down by weathering and erosion, and then transported elsewhere by various forces–in our case, water. It ranges from very fine silt through sand and dirt, and includes gravel, […]


What is a micron?

by wfnblog on March 14, 2012

Astoundingly, a micron (short for micrometer) is one-millionth of a meter. As such, it is also one thousand times smaller than a millimeter. Particles on this scale usually can’t be seen with your eyes. For example, the diameter of a human hair, which averages 75 microns wide, is very hard to discern without the use […]