A water contaminant is a substance which is found in water that has the potential to pose a risk to public health at certain levels. Some contaminants occur naturally in the environment and seep into water sources through erosion. Unfortunately, many of the contaminants found in water are a result of human activities. The industrial wastes from factories, refineries, mines and mills all contain harmful substances which can contaminate water sources.
But many people in developing countries, and people living in rural areas of developed countries (including many First Nations communities) do not take safe drinking water for granted. They understand the relationship that exists between safe drinking water and good health, because they have experienced waterborne disease firsthand.
Escherichia coli, also referred to as E. coli, is a type of fecal coliform bacteria that is found in the intestines of healthy warm-blooded animals and humans. Most E. coli strains are harmless and serve a useful function in the body by stopping the growth of harmful bacteria species and by making necessary vitamins. However, some strains can be opportunistic pathogens, while others can cause gastrointestinal illness in healthy humans when ingested.