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Water Testing

Understanding Your Trace Metals Analysis Results

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The Alberta Centre for Toxicology tests drinking water to make sure it’s safe to drink. They use the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water set by Health Canada to report safe levels of substances in drinking water that can be harmful to your health. To understand your drinking water test results, use the information below.

Some of the results are reported using these categories:

Maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) is the highest amount of a substance in drinking water that is safe for a person to drink. This value is set to protect an average person from a substance in drinking water, if they drink 1.5 litres of water each day over 70 years.

Aesthetic objective (AO) looks at substances that can change the taste, odor, and appearance of drinking water. The AO is the level of a substance used to decide if people will use or drink the water.

Operational guidelines (OG) are followed when a substance in the water may affect water treatment or damage pipes and plumbing fixtures. An OG is not used to test private well water supplies.

Drinking water test results

The following is a list of metals that are tested for in drinking water. If your water testing shows high levels of any of the following substances, call your local public health inspector. They can give you information about treatment devices for your home water supply.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about substances in drinking water and if they could affect your heath.

Chromium 6 (VI)

The following metals aren’t included in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. At this time, Health Canada has not found that these metals are related to any health concerns.

  • beryllium
  • cobalt
  • molybdenum
  • nickel
  • silver
  • thallium
  • titanium
  • vanadium

Alberta Health Services is collecting information about these trace metal levels to better understand if they get into our drinking water from natural causes or industrial activity.

For more information about drinking water, visit:

Alberta Health Services – Information for your Home

Alberta Environment and Parks – Working Well

Current as of: August 2, 2019

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta