Testing Water for Metals & Heavy Metals

Testing water for metals

Specialist metal and heavy metals analysis

WTS is a leading UK water, air and environmental services company offering a full range of environmental solutions to organisations throughout the UK and Ireland. Our expert laboratory analysis services include testing water for metals (and heavy metals), wastewater and trade effluent testing, chemical and microbiological analysis and in-field sampling services.

Why test water for metals?

There are a number of reasons why you may want to test water for metals, including some of the more common heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. You may extract your water from a private supply and be concerned about contamination of your drinking water, or you may be a business looking to satisfy trade effluent discharge standards for your wastewater. Whatever your reasons WTS has the expertise to help you.

Specialist water analysis & in-field sampling

Our specialist laboratory based water analysis and in-field sampling solutions include:

  • Laboratory Water Testing & Analysis

    Expert analysis of water, waste water and industrial effluents for metals, chemicals and microbiological parameters.

  • Physical Parameters

    Testing for specified physical parameters in water.

  • Monitoring & Validation

    Latest laboratory and in-field water analysis equipment to monitor and validate water treatment programme performance and satisfy discharge consent standards.

  • In-field Sampling.

    Expert in-field water sampling.

Full national UK coverage

With offices in London serving the South and South East England, Manchester (North West), Birmingham (Midlands), Bristol (South East England and Wales), Leeds (North and North East) and Glasgow (Scotland), supported by regional teams of specially trained engineers, water treatment service specialists and technical experts we can offer professional, cost effective water testing, in-field water sampling and laboratory analysis services across the UK and Ireland.

Contact WTS today to learn how our professional water quality analysis, in-field testing and sampling solutions can help improve your water quality, water treatment validation and regulatory compliance processes. To speak with one of our water testing experts call us on 0330 223 31 31 or simply use this button.

Understanding water quality

Here in the UK we’re lucky to have a safe and reliable supply of clean drinking water, literally on-tap. Most homes and commercial buildings in the UK get their mains water supplied directly by one of the big water companies, who have a responsibility to check the quality of the water being supplied, and testing it to ensure it falls within strict legal limits set by the regulators.

Water supplied for drinking (often called potable water) in the UK has to be constantly monitored, and there is an independent regulatory body called the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) which monitors this. DWI inspectors regularly enter consumer properties to take water samples for independent analysis.

The quality of our drinking water is not something most of us need to worry about unless something goes wrong. However, if you’re buying or leasing a property for residential or commercial purposes which takes its water from a private water supply such as a well, borehole, spring or other water source, then it’s up to you to ensure your water meets the standards set in the Water Supply Regulations 2016. Confirming this may involve testing water for metals, chemicals, microbiological parameters and other common contaminants.

What metals are found in water?

In general, heavy metals contaminating our water supplies are less of a problem than they were in the past. With improved environmental awareness we’ve cleaned up our collective act when it comes to waste and wastewater disposal. Changing patterns of work have also meant that we just don’t have the heavy industrial processes that previously used iron, steel, lead, mercury, arsenic and other metals. However, that doesn’t mean there is now no longer any metal contamination of our water supplies. It’s therefore important that where you suspect there may be a metal contamination issue that you test your water to make sure concentrations’ do not exceed the safe limits set by the Government.

Some of the main metals and other elements you might find in water, and which could potentially cause health problems if present at high enough concentrations include:

  • Lead

    Although lead has been banned for use in water pipes and water storage tanks since the 1970s, many older properties which have not been renovated for years might still have lead pipes.

    Too much lead in drinking water can have serious consequences; lead poisoning can cause a range of health problems including headaches, high blood pressure, memory loss, abdominal pain, kidney failure, miscarriage or premature birth.

  • Mercury

    Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can combine with other elements in the earth to form a variety of compounds.

    Unlike lead poisoning where the effects build up over time, short term exposure to high levels of mercury in drinking water can cause serious health issues including headaches, insomnia, kidney problems, as well as having an effect on hearing, vision and memor

  • Arsenic

    It’s not news that arsenic is poisonous, and this metallic element is found at differing levels throughout the UK. Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water is linked to a higher risk of developing several types of cancer as well as heart disease.

  • Aluminium

    Scientific research is still ongoing into the possible negative effects of aluminium in drinking water, with many press reports making a link with increased levels of dementia.

  • Iron

    Most iron contamination in our drinking water comes from old plumbing installations where old iron pipes and water tanks corrode, and leach iron into the water. High levels of iron in water are generally easy to spot as the water becomes discoloured.

  • Calcium

    If you live in a hard water area then there will be higher levels of calcium and magnesium salts dissolved in your water… when compared to soft water areas. There are no reported health issues associated with drinking hard water, but it can cause limescale damage to boilers, kettles, washing machines and other appliances that use untreated hard water.

Drinking water metal analysis

The UK’s 2016 Water Supply Regulations set out maximum allowable limits for metals and heavy metals in drinking water. If your water is supplied from a water utility company then they are obliged to meet these standards. However, if you extract from a private water supply such as a well, borehole, spring or other water source, then it’s up to you to ensure you meet these standards. The following limits on the maximum concentration levels of metals in drinking water are taken from the Water Supply Regulations 2016.

Maximum Concentration of Metals in Drinking Water - Water Supply Regulations
MetalMaximum concentration
in drinking water
Point of compliance
Aluminium (Al)200 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Antimony (Sb)5.0 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Arsenic (As)10 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Boron (B)1.0 mg/lConsumers’ taps
Cadmium (Cd)5.0 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Chromium (Cr)50 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Copper (Cu)2.0 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Iron (Fe)200 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Lead (Pb)10 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Manganese (Mn)50 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Mercury (Hg)1.0 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Nickel (Ni)20 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Selenium (Se)10 µg/lConsumers’ taps
Sodium (Na)200 µg/lConsumers’ taps

Trade effluent & waste water metals analysis

If you intend to discharge trade effluent or industrial waste water in to a public sewer or watercourse such as a stream, river, lake or the sea then you will need to obtain specific consent from your local sewerage undertaker. Your consent to discharge is likely to include strict limits on the quality of the effluent including its metal content. WTS can analyse your waste water and effluent streams for a range of common metals including the following:

  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Other metals

Making sure drinking water is safe

There are a number of steps you can take to make sure that your drinking water is safe, especially when you’re relying on water from a private supply or natural source rather than taking it from one of the big water utilities.

The approach selected in treating your water before drinking will very much depend on what type of contamination problems exist or are suspected. Testing water for metals, chemicals, microbiological and other contaminants is therefore important. The main methods used to treat water to make it suitable for drinking are:

  • Filtration

    Filtration is a very common technique and involves water flowing through a series of filters which are designed to remove particles of various sizes that contaminate the water. This process could be as simple as a jug filter with removable cartridge for use in a home kitchen, or a complex series of filters used to treat wastewater or industrial effluent that uses several different elements at various stages of the filtration process.

  • UV Treatment

    Ultra-violet or UV treatment is a commonly used technique to deal with microbiological contamination. Although this process won’t do anything to remove metals in your water, it’s a common way of dealing with bacteria that can contaminate drinking water supplies. The advantage of this technique is that it offers a chemical-free way of treating drinking water.

  • Chlorination

    Chlorination is a very common water treatment technique and has been used successfully for many years. Chlorine is the primary chemical added to municipal water supplies to kill off bugs and bacteria in drinking water to make it safer to drink. While treatment with chlorine is a cheap and simple way of dealing with microbiological contamination, it won’t deal with any metals in water.

Experts at testing water for metals & other contaminants

Contact WTS today to find out more about our laboratory water analysis services including testing water for metals, waste water and trade effluent analysis, chemical and microbiological testing and in-field sampling services.

With offices in London serving the South and South East England, Manchester (North West), Birmingham (Midlands), Bristol (South East England and Wales), Leeds (North and North East) and Glasgow (Scotland), supported by regional teams of specially trained technicians, in-field specialists and consultants we can offer professional, cost effective environmental support solutions across the whole of the UK and Ireland.

Contact us today for more information or for your FREE, no obligation quote.

You may also be interested in…

Borehole water wells
Trade effluent and liquid waste management
Cooling tower maintenance
10 facts about water boreholes
Ductwork cleaning
10 causes of industrial equipment-failure
How Microbiological Contamination Affects Indoor Air Quality
Water Tank Relining
Swimming pool water testing
Expansion vessels and legionella risks

Further reading…

More information about metals and heavy metal contamination … here →

Testing Water for Metals and Heavy Metals
User Rating
5 based on 629 votes
Service Type
Testing Water for Metals and Heavy Metals
Provider Name
Water Treatment Services,
14 Commercial Street,Manchester,United Kingdom-M15 4PX,
Telephone No.0330 223 31 31
United Kingdom & Ireland
Specialists in testing water for metals & heavy metals including lead, mercury, arsenic & more. Test private drinking water supplies from wells, boreholes & springs; wastewater & industrial effluent for metals. Comply with trade effluent discharge consents & DWI Water Supply Regulations for metals in water.