Dissolved Oxygen In Drinking Water

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Dissolved oxygen (DO) is a key component in drinking water. By measuring DO levels in drinking water, it tells water industries the water quality, which is vital for human consumption.

Earth contains around 71% of water, making it the most abundant resource on our planet. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to safe drinking water and waterborne diseases kill millions of people every year. 

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is one of the most important indicators of water quality in drinking water. Dissolved oxygen is also critical for fish and other aquatic organisms to survive, therefore regularly testing DO is required in a variety of industries.

Why Is Dissolved Oxygen Important In Drinking Water?

Dissolved oxygen plays a significant role in biological processes, both directly (organism physiology and survival), and indirectly (the effect on nitrogen and carbon cycles in water).

In water, dissolved oxygen uses up a specific amount of space, therefore, if DO levels are too high, water cannot hold onto other dissolved substances. If DO levels are too low, minerals from riverbeds and runoff will start to dissolve into the water, which affects water quality.

Dissolved Oxygen & Drinking Water

When talking about drinking water supplies in a particular area, dissolved oxygen plays a large part in the overall taste of the water. If the DO levels of the water supplies in your area are high, the drinking water will have a better taste than areas with lower DO levels. 

Despite increases in DO levels improving the taste of drinking water, it doesn’t come without some downfalls. Water with higher DO levels can damage industrial components. As an example, increasing DO levels increase corrosion in water pipes, therefore costing water suppliers more money with maintenance and repairs. 

To prevent corrosion and other damages to water systems, most water industries will only use water that has a low DO concentration. 

In determining the DO concentration, water operators must consider the following:

  • As water movement (wave action) is increased; windier areas will have a higher DO level than stagnant water. 
  • When air pressure is high, more oxygen is dissolved, thus increasing the DO level in the water. Areas with a higher air pressure are more favorable for drinking water sources than areas with low air pressure. 
  • Areas with colder water contain higher concentrations of DO than warm water.
  • Oxygen (O2) creation from aquatic plants increases the amount of DO via their photosynthesis process, which is then consumed by fish and other aquatic plants. 

These factors are important to consider, as DO takes up a certain amount of space in the water. When DO levels are high, the space is limited for other dissolved substances. 

To ensure water is safe for drinking, chlorine and chloramine are often added, therefore there must be enough space to disinfect public water systems. However, if DO levels are too low, minerals will quickly dissolve in water systems, and while higher minerals are not problematic for drinking water, they can alter the smell and taste of the water, making it less desirable.

What Affects Dissolved Oxygen In Drinking Water?

Dissolved oxygen is affected by natural and anthropogenic factors, which affect both aquatic communities and water quality. 

Natural Factors:

  • Aquatic life
  • Vegetation
  • Salinity
  • Temperature
  • Elevation
  • Water flow

Anthropogenic Factors:

  • Clearing land
  • Deforestation
  • Sewage waste
  • Agricultural & urban runoff
  • Channel alterations

How To Measure Dissolved Oxygen In Drinking Water

As already mentioned, measuring DO is important to ensure drinking water is safe for human consumption. When measuring the water quality of drinking water, healthy water should have a DO concentration above 6.5-8 mg/L (80-110%).

You can test dissolved oxygen in drinking water using electrochemical analysis  (DO probe/sensor), photochemical analysis, or chemical analysis (the basic titration method). 

Using a DO probe is the most accurate and preferred way. For more information on how to use a DO probe, we have an easy step-by-step guide here

Summary 

Measuring dissolved oxygen in drinking water is important to understand water quality, and allows water industries to meet the required standards. 

High dissolved oxygen levels are beneficial for drinking water, as it improves the taste, however, high dissolved oxygen levels are linked to rapid corrosion of water pipes. Therefore, water industry companies use the lowest DO levels that are safe for human consumption to be efficient. Safe drinking water should have a DO value of 6.5-8 mg/L (80-110%).
If you have any questions regarding dissolved oxygen, other water quality measurements, or what dissolved oxygen probes will best suit your needs, please do not hesitate to reach out to the world-class team at Atlas Scientific.

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