An Investigation of Metals and Other Contaminants in the Drinking Water of Tennessee

Nevein Soliman, Tennessee State University


Drinking water comes from groundwater or surface water and often includes a variety of toxic metals that can cause cancer. Drinking water has salts and chemical compounds. Cities and counties in the state of Tennessee are required to test and report water quality each year, including the presence of over 80 contaminants, which will be disclosed in this paper. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has prepared a Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) Report for untreated water sources (streams, rivers, and lakes) which serve the water system for each city and county in Tennessee. This study examined toxic metals and other compounds found in drinking water. Toxic metals such as: arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, nitrate, zinc, magnesium, mercury, aluminum, barium, nickel, manganese, iron, chromium, vanadium, combined radium, hardness (calcium carbonate), salt as sulfate and chloride, chemical as total organic carbon (TOC), turbidity, chlorine, total trihalomethanes (TTHMS), haloacetic acids (HHAs), sodium, and fluoride were present in Tennessee’s drinking water sources over the course of 3 years. The data was attained from 2016, 2017, and 2018 SWAP reports from Bartlett / Shelby, Williamson, Sullivan, Hamilton, Montgomery, Putnam, Cumberland, Rhea, Meigs, Gibson, Sevier, Wilson, Rutherford, and Davidson counties. It was determined that most contaminants found in Tennessee drinking water were safe and did not exceed the toxic limits set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and there were several counties that had levels of organic carbon, arsenic, and cadmium that were elevated. Some counties do not report some contaminants, but that does not mean they do not have it at all, but they need to test it. Two counties passed the limit by EPA for chlorine, which is 4 mg/L. Total organic carbon was very high (50 ppm; EPA limit is 25 ppm) in Rutherford county and needs treatment technology (TT). Similarly, Manganese is very high level (5.0 mg/L; EPA Limit is 0.05mg/L), which needs treatment technology (TT). Arsenic was very high (50 ppb; EPA limit is 10 ppb) in Davidson county and needs treatment technology (TT).

Subject Area

Biochemistry|Hydrologic sciences|Water Resources Management

Recommended Citation

Nevein Soliman, "An Investigation of Metals and Other Contaminants in the Drinking Water of Tennessee" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI28774754.