Iron is an essential element in human nutrition. It acts as an oxygen carrier in the blood as a constituent of haemoglobin. People with anaemia are given iron tablets in the form of ferrous sulphate. The levels of iron found in drinking water are not, therefore, a health risk and indeed are not even of sufficient quantity to contribute significantly to the body’s daily requirements.
Iron can cause problems in water due to the staining of laundry and plumbing fittings, though. It generally has a reddish-brown appearance and is present as oxide. Increases of iron concentrations are usually due to corrosion of iron pipework or the disturbance of existing deposits in the distribution system. The presence of these solids is usually immediately noticed by the consumer and is often responsible for complaints about water quality.