The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 considered neutral. Water with a pH below 7 is considered acidic, while water with a pH above 7 is considered alkaline or basic. The pH tolerance for drinkable water is typically within a specific range to ensure its safety and palatability. The World Health Organization (WHO) and various national guidelines provide recommendations for the acceptable pH range in drinking water.
According to the WHO, the ideal pH range for drinking water is generally between 6.5 and 8.5. This range ensures that water is neither too acidic nor too alkaline, maintaining a neutral to slightly basic character. Most municipal water supplies aim to maintain a pH level within this range to meet regulatory standards.
It's important to note that these pH guidelines are not strict limits but rather a range that is considered acceptable for human consumption. Slight variations in pH within this range are usually not a cause for concern. However, extreme pH levels outside this range may indicate a water quality issue that requires further investigation.
Drinking water with a pH outside the recommended range may have several implications:
- Acidic water: Water with a pH below 6.5 may have a sour taste and can potentially corrode plumbing fixtures and pipes, leading to leaching of metals into the water. However, slight acidity in water is generally not harmful to human health.
- Alkaline water: Water with a pH above 8.5 may have a bitter taste and may cause scale buildup in plumbing systems. While moderate alkalinity is usually not harmful, drinking water with a consistently high pH can potentially disrupt the body's natural pH balance and lead to health issues in some individuals.
It's worth mentioning that pH alone is not the only parameter used to assess water quality. Other factors such as microbial contamination, chemical pollutants, and mineral content are also essential considerations for determining the safety and suitability of drinking water.