• Heavy metals are metallic elements found naturally in the earth's crust, rock formation, and soil. The following are heavy metals that are commonly found in groundwater sources. Low levels of some of the heavy metals listed below in drinking water are not harmful. In fact, some of these heavy metals are essential to human health. But some heavy metals even at low levels can cause serious health effects, especially to infants and children. Heavy metals in drinking water can be accumulative in the body and cause many serious long term health effects. 


  • Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and soil. It can be found in some drinking water supplies. Arsenic may enter lakes, rivers or underground water naturally when mineral deposits or rocks containing arsenic dissolve in water sources. Arsenic can get into drinking water from natural deposits or runoff from agriculture, metal production (such as gold and base metal mining), industrial processes, the discharge of industrial wastes and the deposit of arsenic particles in dust or dissolved in rain or snow.

    Drinking water containing arsenic can have serious short-term and long-term health effects. Exposure to very high levels of arsenic in drinking water can lead to arsenic poisoning. The primary health concern with exposure to arsenic is cancer. Exposure to arsenic over many years can increase your chances of getting certain types of cancer, or other health effects, such as diarrhoea, poor blood production, and abnormal heartbeat.  Health Canada set a Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) of 10 ug/L or ppb for arsenic in drinking water. There have been levels of 300 ug/L or ppb found in some areas of the Greater City of Sudbury.

  • Copper is naturally in the environment but rarely present in water supplies. Copper is used in plumbing, copper fittings, pots, and pans. Copper is also found in foods. Water can be corrosive and can cause the copper to dissolve in water. Your body needs some copper to keep you healthy but too much can be harmful. Long term effects of drinking water with high levels of copper can cause liver damage.

  • Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks and soil and can also be contributed from underground pollution from industrial waste and mining processes. High levels of manganese in drinking water can have serious health effects. Drinking water with high levels of manganese is associated with toxicity to the nervous system, neurological disorders, change in behaviour, learning disabilities, speech and memory impairment.

  • Lead in drinking water comes from the corrosion of plumbing materials such as pipes, solder joints, and some fixtures.Lead was commonly used in plumbing up till 1986 and became banned afterwards. Water that is corrosive or has a low mineral content will dissolve lead from plumbing materials and can end up in your drinking water. Lead in drinking water is highly toxic and can cause short term and long term health consequences. Lead attacks the brain and nervous system. Lead is a toxic metal that can even be harmful to human health at low levels.

  • Aluminum is the third most abundant mineral found in the earth's crust. Aluminum is found in most natural water sources. Drinking water with aluminum is nearly unavoidable. Aluminum (Aluminum Sulphate chemical) is added and used in water purification processes for removing micro-organisms such as bacteria, parasites, viruses, and to reduce turbidity and particles. Aluminum in groundwater sources comes naturally from the mineral deposits in the ground. High levels of Aluminum in drinking water can cause long term health effects. Some of the long terms effects are nerve damage, kidney damage and can also be carcinogenic. Aluminum intake is also linked to Alzheimer's in seniors due to long term accumulation.