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Water Glossary - E-N


E. coli - Escherichia coli, common bacteria found in all human systems, particularly in the colon and in fecal waste; presence of e.coli or other coliforms in household/drinking water is a sign of contamination.

Endosulfan sulfate - EPA priority pollutant

Endothallorigin: herbicide runoff; toxicity potential: stomach & intestinal problems; MCL = 0.1

Endotoxins - Bacterial by-products excreted into the environment.

Endrin - EPA priority pollutant; residue from banned insecticide; liver problems; MCL = 0.002

Endrin Aldehyde –EPA priority pollutant

EPA - Acronym for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal agency responsible for the regulation of pesticides, toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes, and toxic pollutants in water and air.

EPA website -

Epichlorohydrin - factory discharge, residue from water treatment; increased cancer risk; MCL = 0

Epilimnion -The top most layer in a thermally stratified lake. It is warmer and typically has a higher pH but lower dissolved oxygen concentration than the hypolimnion.

Ethylbenzene - EPA priority pollutant; origin:discharge from petroleum factories; toxicity potential: liver or kidney issues; MCL = 0.7

Ethylene dibromide(EDB) –origin: petroleum refinery discharge; toxicity potential: increased risk of cancer; MCL= 0 - 0.00005

Eutrophication - also called hypertrophication; environmental response to substances in water, such as 'algal bloom'

eXact iDip photometer - equipment designed to easily provide precise measurements of chemical compounds in water

Exposure - The initial contact of the body with a substance.

Exposure assessment - Analysis of a set of exposure profiles which address for each pollutant, the size of the exposed population, and the routes, duration, frequencies, and intensities of exposure.


False negative - Test or investigation results that indicate a particular condition does not exist when it actually does.

False positive - Test or investigation results that incorrectly indicate the existence of a particular condition.

Faucet filters - water filters designed to be attached to a faucet, such as kitchen <>

Fecal coliforms and E. colibacterial contaminants from human and/or animal feces

Fecal indicators (Enterococci or coliphage), and E. coli

Fertilizers - materials used in gardening, farming, agriculture, that enhance plant growth

FIFRA - Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Filtration media - substances used to filter water; vary in composition and nature of the process by which the water is filtered

Filter Backwash Recycling Rule (FBRR) - The Filter Backwash Recycling Rule requires public water systems (PWSs) to review their backwash water recycling practices to ensure that they do not compromise microbial control.

Fluoranthene - EPA priority pollutant

Fluorene - EPA priority pollutant

Fluoridation - Addition of fluoride compound(s) to water supply to decrease incidence of dental caries; controversial additive that many wish to remove from water. <>

Fluoride (F-) - anion of the element Fluorine; controversial water-additive for tooth strength; naturally occurring from soil erosion; discharge from aluminum & fertilizer factories; brittle bones, tooth mottling; MCL = 4.0 mg/L

Fluoride filters - water filters that remove fluoride; Water fluoridation is controversial, and Fluoride is considered to be a poison in all but one European country. <>

Free Chlorine Measurement - the measurement of hypochlorous acid (an efficient disinfectant) and hypochlorite ion ( a poor disinfectant) in water. The ratio of these two materials in water is pH dependent. The pH range specified (7.0 to 7.6) ensures that sufficienthypochlorous acid is present to facilitate effective disinfection.

Fungi - Any of a group of parasitic lower plants, including molds and mildews, that lack chlorophyll.


Gamma-BHC - EPA priority pollutant [also Alpha-BHC, Beta-BHC, Delta-BHC]; 'Lindane'

Garden filters - water filters for home gardener that remove water contaminants such as chlorine <>

Gastrointestinal illnesses - illnesses or disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine; these involve symptoms such as nausea and/or diarrhea

Giardia lamblia –origin: contaminant arising from human and/or animal waste; toxicity potential: symptoms involve gastrointestinal system (vomiting, diarrhea), MCLG = 0.

Glyphosate - herbicide runoff; kidney, reproductive issues; MCL = 0.7

Granulated carbon - a type of carbon used in water filtration systems; varied particle sizes that efficiently absorb undesirable contaminants such as chlorine, that may impact water quality in terms of taste and/or appearance.

Grease - fats and oils from cooking, such as olive oil or bacon fat; oils from automotive processes, and etc.

Ground water - various definitions, from all the water on the surface of the earth, to water that is specifically below the top surface of the ground.

Ground water contamination - contamination by industrial waste, runoff, chemicals, etc. into the main ground water source

Ground Water Rule (GWR) - Ground Water Rule specifies the appropriate use of disinfection while addressing other components of ground water systems to ensure public health protection.

Guidance - Non-regulatory recommendations on how to achieve specific objectives.


Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) - this group includes mono-, di-, and tri-chloroacetic acids, as well as (mono)-bromo- and di-bromoacetic acids; origin: by-products of water disinfection; toxicity potential: increased risks of cancer.

Hard Water - Water that has exessive amount of positively charged ions, typically magnesium (Mg2+) and/or calcium (Ca2+). Can also be called 'scale'; easily removed from coffee pots with vinegar.

Heavy metals - term for elemental metals that are higher in the periodic table, or more massive, than iron; generally used to describe those metals which are of concern either biologically or environmentally; original usage described mercury/lead/cadmium (all heavier than iron)

Heptachlor - EPA priority pollutant; origin: residue from banned pesticide; toxicity potential: increased risk of cancer; MCL = 0 - 0.0004

Heptachlor epoxide - EPA priority pollutant; origin: from breakdown of heptachlor; toxicity potential: liver damage; MCL= 0 - 0.0002

Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) - one method used to measure bacterial contamination

Hexachlorobenzene - EPA priority pollutant; originL factory discharge; toxicity potential: increased risk of cancer, liver or kidney damage; MCL= 0 - 0.001

Hexachlorobutadiene - EPA priority pollutant

Hexachlorocyclopentadiene -EPA priority pollutant

Hexachloroethane - EPA priority pollutant

High-flow - in terms of water purification indicates large volume of water can go through system

Hydrologic cycle - natural cycle of water on the earth, from evaporation to fall of moisture; as water moves through this cycle, it dissolves and picks up many substances such as elements and minerals from the earth, the plants and the sky. <What Is Water?>

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) - 'rotten egg gas'; not on EPA's list of water hazards as of 12/22/2014

Hyperfiltration - filtration process also known as "reverse osmosis"


Incinerated chemicals and wastes - process of burning and the residues

Indeno (1,2,3-cd) pyrene - EPA priority pollutant

Indicator Compounds - Chemical compounds, such as carbon dioxide, whose presence at certain concentrations may be used to estimate certain building conditions (e.g., airflow, presence of sources).

Industrial Water Filtration Systems - Commercial Water Filters are ideal Filtration Systemsfor removing many water contaminants on large scale in places such as large private residences (over 4000 sq. feet), businesses, manufacturing facilities, apartment buildings, retail establishments, restaurants and schools. Any one of these businesses can benefit from a commercial water filtration system: hospitals and nursing homes, medical and dental offices, office buildings, apartment buildings, restaurants, health clubs, state parks, laundromats, shopping centers, hotels/motels, reception halls, factories, nurseries, fish and pet stores. Also: oil and gas industry, manufacturing, food & beverage, commercial real estate, hospitality, retail industries. <Industrial Water Filtration Systems>

Industrial wastes - non-usable materials from factory or technological production that may cause harm to the environment or to water, and ultimately to humans and/or animals

Inline Water Filters - Inline Refrigerator Water Filters fit any fridge model. They are high quality in-line filters that are attached to a water line outside of refrigerator, coffee machine or ice maker. <>

Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (IESWTR) - The Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule improves control of microbial contaminants, particularly Cryptosporidium, in systems using surface water, or ground water under the direct influence of surface water, that serve 10,000 or more persons. The rule builds upon the treatment technique requirements of the Surface Water Treatment Rule.

Iron (Fe) - metallic element (Latin name, ferrous); needed in the human and animal bodies for processes such as oxygen-carrying in the blood; also common metal used in many processes.

Iron bacteria - bacteria that live on iron in water and can leave behind residues that stain not only plumbing but clothing and etc., examples are thiobacillus ferroxidans and leptospirillum ferroxidans.

Iron contamination - the presence of iron in water, which may not only alter color but also taste, and may result in, or include the presence of iron bacteria

Iron removal filters - water filters that remove iron; Iron is a common problem in water, especially well water. It manifests itself as orange or brown spots on fixtures. <Iron Removal Systems>

Irrigation products - equipment/materials used for irrigation of crops

Irritants - Substances which inflame living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact, causing pain or swelling.

Isophorone - EPA priority pollutant; origin: occurs naturally in cranberries, also used as industrial solvent

Isopropylbenzene - common name cumene; origin: chemical from crude oil and refined fuels. 2014 addition to USDA carcinogens list because cumene fumes cause cancers for mice (liver and lungs); however, it is very poorly soluble in water suggesting low risk as water contaminant.


no listings for J


KDF (KDF filters) - a water purification technology that uses electrochemical oxidation to neutralize harmful chemicals in the water. Technology developed by KDF Fluid Treatment, Inc. (1980; patented 1987); Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF-55) Water Filter; uses redox chemistry to remove chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, iron, mercury, lead, and chlorine from water, as well as being a slightly effective anti-microbial. <>


Large Whole House Water Filters – These filtration Systems are usually good for medium to large houses and small commercial applications. A typical water filtration system consists of a sediment pre-filter, and a large cylinder with water filtering media. A large whole house water filter can have either an automatic backwash, or manual backwash (or require no backwashing at all). With automatic backwash a system comes with Fleck controller on top, and will have to be connected to a water drain. <>

Leachate – solution of water after flowing through solid and picking up chemicals

Lead (Pb) -metallic element; origin: erosion of natural deposits, corrosion of household plumbing; toxicity potential: may harm infants and children, particularly mental/physical development; problems for adults include high blood pressure &/or kidney issues; MCL = 0

Legionella pneumophila – naturally occurring aqueous bacteria; toxicity potential: lung infection called Legionnaire's Disease (type of pneumonia); MCL = 0

Lime - calcium oxide (CaO); hydrated lime is calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2.

Lime scale - Hard water seal containing a high percentage of calcium carbonate.

Limestone - A sedimentary rock, largely calcium carbonate, and usually also containing significant amounts of magnesium carbonate.

Lindane: origin: Runoff/leaching from insecticide used on cattle, lumber, gardens; toxicity potential: Liver or kidney problems; MCL= 0.0002

Linuron - EPA contaminant candidate CCL-1

Liter - Metric unit of volume; 1 U.S. Gallon equals 3.785 liters; 1 liter of water weights 1000 grams.

Litmus paper – paper used in testing the pH of water; turns red for an acidic solution (pH less than 7.0); turns blue in a basic solution (pH greater than 7.0)

Lithium (Li) – element


Magnesium (Mg) - element; contributes to 'hardness' of water; may lead to formation of scale and insoluble soap curds.

Manganese (Mn) - element; CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate; EPA secondary standard; suggested limits= 0.5 mg/L

Mercury (Hg) - elemental metal (pure elemental mercury is liquid at room temperature); origin: erosion of natural deposits, discharge from refineries and factories, runoff from landfills and croplands; toxicity potential: kidney damage; MCL = 0.0002

Mestranol – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate

Metallic ions – metals form positive ions (cations), which vary in charge depending on how many electrons were lost ( -1, -2, etc.). Some metallic ions may be dangerous at very low concentrations (arsenic, lead, mercury); others occur naturally and are needed for human health (magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium), Magnesium and calcium contribute to 'hard water' and scale buildup, such as in your coffee pot (easily removed with vinegar -acetic acid – because all metals form metal-acetate complexes).

Methamidophos - CCL-3EPA contaminant candidate; origin: insecticide

Methanol – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: industrial solvent, gasoline additive, anti-freeze.

Methoxychlor – origin: insecticide leaching/runoff; toxicity potential: reproductive health issues; MCL = 0.04

2-Methoxy ethanol – CCL-3EPA contaminant candidate

Methyl bromide (bromomethane) – EPA priority pollutant; CCL-1, CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate

Methyl chloride - EPA priority pollutant

Methylene chloride - EPA priority pollutant

2-Methylene-di-analine - CCL-3EPA Contaminant Candidate

2-methyl-Phenol (o-cresol) – CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate

Methyl-t-butyl ether (MTBE) – CCL-1, CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate

Metolachlor – CCL-1, CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate

Metolachlor ethanesulfonic acid (ESA) – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate

Metolachlor oxanilic acid (OA) – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate CCL-3

Metribuzin – CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate (CCL-1)

micron – 0.000001 meters or one millionth of a meter.

mg/L (ppm) - milligrams per liter (also known as parts per million). For practical purposes mg/L is assumed to be equal to ppm.

Mg2+ - ionic Magnesium, positively charged magnesium ions present in "hard water"; non-hazardous; not on EPA lists as of 12/2014

Microbial/Microbiological - Microscopic forms of life.

Microbiological Contamination - Infection or pollution by microscopic organisms.

Microsporidia (Enterocytozoon & Septata)CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate

Mineral - inorganic substances such as rocks and similar matter, distinct from 'organic' animals or plants. Inorganic ions in water are also called minerals.

Molecule – chemical term refering to the simplest atomic combination forming a compound such as water, H2O.

Molinate (Ordram)– CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate

Molybdenum (Mb) – metallic element; CCL-3EPA contaminant candidate; origin: commonly used as chemical reagent (molybdenum trioxide)

Mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAC) – CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate ; toxicity potential: lung infection


Naegleria fowleriCCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: shallow, warm surface/ground water; toxicity potential: primary amebic meningoencephalitis

Naphthalene- EPA priority pollutant; CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate

Negative charge– The charge of an anion, indicating that the substance has extra electrons.

Negative ionsanions, or charged atoms or molecules with extra electrons, such as chloride, fluoride, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, carbonate, etc. In some cases, the anion is beneficial and necessary to life; others are harmful.

Neutral – nuetral can refer to atoms & molecules, when they have no charge and are balanced; it can also refer to pH 7.0 – balanced between acidic and basic.

Nickel (Ni) - metallic element; EPA priority pollutant

NIOSH - National Instititute for Occupational Safety and Health (U.S.A.)

Nitrate (NO3-) - measured as nitrogen; origin: runoff from fertilizer use, leaking from septic tanks, sewage, erosion of natural deposits; toxicity potential: serious illness for infants under 6 mos of age; symptoms include shortness of breath and blue-baby syndrome; MCL = 10

Nitrate (NO3-) Water Filters - nitrate enters water supplies through the nitrogen cycle rather than via dissolved minerals and is one of the major ions in natural waters. Most nitrate that occurs in drinking water is the result of contamination of ground water supplies by septic systems, feed lots, and agricultural fertilizers. Nitrate is reduced to nitrite in the body. The EPA’s maximum contaminant level for nitrate is 10 mg/L (mg/L or ppm). We provide full range of nitrate removal water filters, from countertop to whole house nitrate reduction systems. <Nitrate Removing Water Filters>

Nitrite (NO2-) - measured as nitrogen; origin: Runoff from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits; toxicity potential: serious illness; MCL = 1.0.

Nitrobenzene – CCL-1 EPA contaminant candidate; EPA priority pollutant; origin: aniline production, industrial and pharmaceutical solvent

Nitroglycerine – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: pharmaceuticals, explosive production, rocket propellants.

Nitrophenol (2- & 4-) - EPA priority pollutant

N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidoneCCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: chemical solvent, pesticide, food packaging.

N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: additive for lubricants and gasoline; antioxidant; plastics stabilizer; disinfection byproduct.

N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)- EPA priority pollutant; CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: former rocket fuel production; industrial solvent & anti-oxidant; disinfection byproduct.

N-nitrosodiphenylamine - EPA priority pollutant; CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: chemical reagent, used as rubber and polymer additive; may be a disinfection byproduct.

N-nitrosodi-n-propylamine (NDPA) - EPA priority pollutant; CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: disinfection byproduct.

N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR) CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: disinfection byproduct.

Norethindrone (19-Norethisterone) – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: pharmaceuticals.

N-propylbenzene – CCL-3 EPA contaminant candidate; origin: manufacture, textile dyeing, printing solvent, constituent of asphalt and naptha.

NTIS - National Technical Information Service.