Sample Case Study Paper on Water Quality and Contamination Laboratory Report


As a major component of life systems, water forms a large percentage of factors that support life. This is not only because it is important for our physiological processes, but also because it takes care of hygiene and sanitation. Water is also vital in food production and moistening of the air. The earth surface is seventy percent covered with water. This simply means that the majority of the earth surface is the wet surface. However, it is important to note that the water that is fit for human consumption is a very small fraction of the water. This translates to approximately one percent of the total water that is available on earth. Apparently, even this small portion of the water is under risk of contamination by the activities of human beings. Despite all these, the significance of water to living and non- living things needs no more emphasis. Laboratory examination of water samples and detection of contaminants is vital in the quest for the remediation process. This paper is a report on lab procedures, methods, and results. The first parts illustrate the materials used and the methods involved in the experiment. The procedures, results, and summary of the whole process forms part of all the reported aspects.





Water Quality and Contamination Laboratory Report


Research has shown that even though the surface of the earth constitutes mainly masses of water, the amount that can be readily used for direct consumption is very little (WHO, 1997). This is because a huge percentage of water that is available is mostly salty and contaminated. In a similar but variant scenario, the human body is made up of mainly fluids that mediate, and even participate in the physiological processes of the body (Howard, Ince & Smith, 2003). This means that without water, life is literally threatened to the brink of not existing since human beings fully depend on it for survival. Unfortunately, the process of purifying saline water is very expensive, time consuming, and requires unrealistically huge amounts of resources (EPA, 2011). Because of this, the small amount of water available for consumption should be placed and used with great care and sparingly.

Fresh water for consumption is under risk of contamination every day. Various human activities are the main causes of such contamination (Bartram & Balance, 1996). Effluents from industries contaminate both liquid and gaseous form of water whereas the one, which is found within underground sources, such as aquifers, is also under risk of contamination (The ground water Foundation, 2013). This is because there is a possibility of spilt oil, leaking pipes, and underground tanks or condensers that may access or be in contact with water sources. Sometimes the underground storage tanks may leak due to corrosion and pitting. Depending on the environmental conditions, such as temperature, these leaks reach the underground water sources thus contaminating them (EPA, 2011).

For the benefit of maintaining good quality water for human consumption, it is necessary that areas that are more vulnerable to such kind of contamination be placed under regular and periodical scrutiny to check for presence of pollutant chemicals in order to pave way for remediation (Howard, Ince & Smith, 2003). For example, in areas surrounding location of underground storage tanks and oil wells, the process begins with inventory review, throughout analysis and most importantly, regular collection of underground water samples for laboratory analysis. In this paper, a discussion is presented on some of the laboratory processes that water is subjected to for verification of the availability a contaminant.

Material and Methods

Materials needed included 100ml beakers labeled 1-8, and tap water. In addition, to be used was a thermometer to ensure that the temperature is at room temperature.

Oil, soil, vinegar, detergent, and bleaching agents were used in the experiment. The procedure involved labeling the beakers from number one to number eight followed by careful addition of tap water onto these beakers. This was followed by the addition of the various contaminants to observe the changes or effects. The results were then recorded as follows.


100ml tap water added to the beaker number 1 was observed to have small amounts of bubbles but had no scent at all.

In beaker number 2, the water had no scent. It was also observed that there was a 1.4-inch oil film separated from the water and rested on top. There were thin layers of bubbles observed below the oil film, and there was a slight change in the color of water from colorless to a yellowish tone.

In beaker 3, the water had small amount of bubbles, and when water and vinegar mixed completely, there was no change in color but water had a slight smell of vinegar.

In beaker 4, water initially was observed to fizz and bubble, but settled quickly. It had no scent but became cloudy.

In beaker number 5, the contents of beaker could only allow 70ml of water into the beaker. After one minute, water level rose to slightly above 70ml. Water was observed to turn brown with a little soil settling at the bottom.

Beaker number 6 was placed under a funnel and the contents of the beaker number 2 poured. The soil took on a shine bubbled and separated slightly. The scent of the soil was muted. After one minute, the water level in beaker 6 rose to a level above 90ml. Water turned slightly brown with a little soil residue resting on the floor. Water had a slight scent of the soil and there was minimal separation of water and the soil.

In beaker 7 contents of the beaker, 3 were poured through a funnel. 90ml of the 100ml went into beaker. After a minute, water turned light brown and little soil settled at the bottom of the beaker 7.

Contents of beaker 4were poured into beaker 8 through the funnel. 100ml of water went into the beaker. After a minute, water turned dark brown color with no soil sediments settling. Water had no scent. Bubbles settled on top of the water.

Discussion and Conclusion

It can be concluded that vinegar, vegetable oil, and laundry detergent show great potential of being dangerous contaminants. Vinegar is likely to contaminate large amounts of water. In this experiment, it could be seen that vinegar mixes completely and forms a solution (Bartram & Balance, 1996). Many such substances that make water unsafe for consumption are usually invisible since they dissolve and form colorless and sometimes odorless solution. Oil can also contaminate ground water. This is because oil neither mixes nor dissolves in water. Instead, it forms a layer on the upper surface to create a distinct interface in the mixture. It happens because oil has a property of insolubility and a relatively low density (WHO, 1997). As a result of spreading above the water surface, oil is able to not only contaminate but also deprive water of the free circulation of dissolved gases (WHO, 1997).

Furthermore, laundry detergent has a great threat to groundwater. In very many occasions, people tend to dispose wastes from detergents into the soil. These detergents are made up of chemicals that are not easy to break down by either chemical or biological process. In the experiment, it is seen that tap water becomes fizzy and then settles with cloudiness (Bartram & Balance, 1996). It shows that the detergent has a chemical that reacts with water. Depending on the manufacturer, various detergents contain different chemicals. Such chemical gain access to natural aquifers and contaminate the water. The time and degree of contamination of underground water is a function of various environmental variables. They include the type of soil, presence or absence of a pavement, prevailing temperature among other factors that may affect the chemical and physical properties (EPA, 2011).

The separation of the oil and water is an unnatural occurrence, though it is easy to filter (The ground water Foundation, 2013). In line with this, it would seem that the vinegar would also have to be introduced in large amounts. In the case of laundry detergent, it is a contaminant because it has chemicals that are not meant for human consumption (WHO, 1997). Each contaminant changed the color of the water and slightly altered the smell. The most potent was the oil, due to the amount of separation that took place. According to the Food and Toxicology Report of 2000, it is evident that, “health effects reports have included various cancers, adverse reproductive outcomes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disease” (Calderon, 2000).

A hypothesis can be generated that gravel, sand, and carbon will adequately filter the water off contaminates. There is a major distinction in color, smell, and visibility between the two samples. The original sample was totally contaminated and undrinkable. The new sample is clearer, however smells of bleach, but could be potable if need be. Aeration took place, as the mixture was stirred, thereby adding oxygen to the water. When alum was added, coagulation began as the dirt began to clump up. After 15 minutes, the water and dirt began to separate. Filtration took place as water passed through the layers of sand, charcoal, gravel and pebbles that assist sieve out the little particles that passed through. The last step is called disinfection in which bleach was added to kill any bacteria that may still be in water. It is not certain, however, the water is clean or palatable at this point.

In the part of the bottled water and the tests that have been conducted upon the samples, it is safe to say that the water has the worth it is given in terms of money. The pH, elements present and the safety of storage contribute to its safety for consumption. Moreover, during the process of manufacture and processing, there are costs involved as a way of ensuring adequate safety for both ingestion and sanitation. However, the results of this experiment also indicate that there are simpler methods of rendering the water for human and animal use as well as circulation through the environment. Therefore if the is mastery of using the readily available purifying materials, such as charcoal or techniques like decantation or distillation will ensure that the cost of obtaining clean water is reduced significantly. On the other hand, the general findings from the study indicate that the fact that water is clear or colorless does not necessarily mean that it is clean and safe for consumption. As such, water from areas near facilities, such as factory effluents, undergrounds storage tanks, and many other establishments ought to undergo regular checks for ensuring safety for use and consumption.




Bartram, J., &Ballance R. (1996). Water quality monitoring. London: E & FN Spon, Inc

Calderon R. L. (2000). The epidemiology of chemical contaminants of drinking water. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 38(1), 13-20.

EPA, (2011). Underground water contamination, quality of drinking water.

Howard, G., Ince, M., & Smith, M. (2003). Rapid assessment of drinking-water quality: a             handbook for implementation (draft). Geneva and New York: World Health Organization            and United Nations Children’s Fund

The ground water Foundation. (2013). Potential Threats to Our Groundwater Contamination.

WHO (1997). Guidelines for drinking-water quality, volume3: surveillance and control of community water supplies. Geneva: World Health Organization