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Frequently Asked Questions


Cardinal Environmental provides environmental testing and monitoring to meet all of your needs. Below, you will find common questions asked by our customers. If your question is not answered here, please contact us.

Is there radon in my water?

Radon is only a concern if your drinking water comes from underground, such as a well that pumps water from an aquifer, though not all water from underground sources contains radon. There is no federal regulation for radon in indoor air. However, EPA does recommend that you take action to reduce your home's indoor radon levels if you test your home and find levels at or above 4 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter, a unit of measurement for radiation).

Is water with chlorine in it safe to drink?

Yes. Many tests have shown that the amount of chlorine found in treated water is safe to drink, although some people object to the taste.

Can I tell if my drinking water is okay by just looking at it, tasting it or smelling it?

No. None of the chemicals or microbes that could make you sick can be seen, tasted or smelled.

Why does my drinking water taste or smell "funny?"
Will this smelly water make me sick?

The most common reasons for bad tasting or smelling water are:

» » A funny taste can come from the chlorine that is added to the water to kill germs.

» » A rotten egg odor in some groundwater is caused by a non-toxic, smelly chemical -- hydrogen sulfide -- dissolved in the water.

» » As algae and tiny fungi grow in surface water sources, they give off non-toxic, smelly chemicals that can cause unpleasant tastes in drinking water. Different algae cause different tastes and odors -- grassy, swampy and pigpen, as examples -- and the little fungi can cause an earthy-musty taste.

None of the contaminants that could affect your health can be tasted in drinking water, but heavily chlorinated water may contain "reaction products." Reaction products are created when non-toxic natural chemicals combine with other chemicals to produce harmful chemicals. Therefore, some "natural" chemicals must be watched closely by your water supplier.

Our friend drinks "artesian well water". What is it?

Your friend is drinking water from a well that taps an aquifer that is "confined". This aquifer is water-bearing rock (the pores and cracks between rock particles are filled with water) that is surrounded by other rock or material that does not allow water to pass through. So, the water in this aquifer is squeezed by the other rocks, creating pressure in the water-bearing aquifer. When an artesian aquifer is tapped by a well the pressure pushes the water up the well, sometimes all the way to the surface, creating a flowing well. Imagine it as a very wet sponge contained in a closed plastic bag. Put a straw through the bag into the sponge, hold the bag tightly around the straw, and SQUEEZE - that would be artesian water squirting you in the face.

How do I know if I have a Mold problem?

Mold has a pungent smell. When it is confined to one area of your home, you may notice an unpleasant odor when you are in that area. The appearance of mold in your shower stall or bathtub is easy to distinguish from normal soap. However, in the basement or cellar you may have to investigate a little further to find the mold. Mold will take hold of damp areas, so if you have a wall or floor where dampness collects, mold could very well be there as well. Because mold is not always visible, it can be difficult realizing that you do indeed have a mold problem. If you feel listless, congested and experience watering eyes while in your home, these can all be signs of the presence of mold.

How do I know if I have Asbestos in my home?

Asbestos is a dangerous material that has been linked to cancer. Asbestos was banned in the 1970s, but homes built before then can still have asbestos tiles, insulation, and pipe wrap in them. You need to have asbestos professionally tested.

How do I know if I have Formaldehyde in my home?

Formaldehyde is colorless and has a characteristic pungent, irritating odor. Because formaldehyde resins are used in many construction materials it is one of the more common indoor air pollutants. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, resulting in watery eyes, may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing, and can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms.

When and why should I test my water?

At a minimum you should test your well for an indicator of contamination. Total Coliform Bacteria is one good indicator of the health of your well. It is appropriate to test your well for Total Coliform Bacteria:

»» At least once per year
»» After a flood
»» If there is a noticeable change in the taste, appearance or odor

What is total coliform?

This is the most common and basic test for contamination. Positive results indicate a problem with the sanitary condition of your well. For your water to be considered safe for consumption, a sample should contain no Coliform Bacteria.

Why should drinking water be tested for Nitrates?

High levels of nitrates may indicate biological wastes or run off from highly fertilized fields. The level of nitrates fluctuates with seasonal changes and rain patterns. Excessive levels of nitrates cause Methemoglobinemia a blood disorder in infants (blue baby syndrome). Nitrates are also being studied as a possible carcinogen.

What other services does Cardinal Environmental provide?

Cardinal Environmental is a full service environmental laboratory and consulting firm. We routinely sample and analyze water, wastewater, air, soil, and waste for various contaminants. Our staff also provides assistance with environmental reports and permits. We can provide Health and Safety related training or exposure monitoring.

If you have an environmental issue, Cardinal Environmental can probably offer some assistance or refer you to someone who can help.

Where can I find information on recycling?

Click here for a brochure with recycling information published by the City of Sheboygan.