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Water Glossary: A B C D E F G H IL M N O PQ R S T UV WZ

Acid

: A substance that has the ability to react with bases to form salt. The pH of an acidic solution is less than 7. pH 7 is neutral (e.g., pure water) — acids are pH 0 to less than 7. Similarly, bases are greater than 7 to 14. The usual definition of an acid is "any substance that can donate a hydrogen ion".

 

Acid deposition
("acid rain")

: Water that falls to or condenses on the Earth's surface as rain, drizzle, snow, sleet, hail, dew, frost, or fog with a pH of less than 5.6.

 

Acidic

: The condition of water or soil which contains a sufficient amount of acid substances to lower the pH below 7.0.

 

Acidity

: The strength (concentration of hydrogen [H+] ions) of an acidic substance, measured as pH

 

Acrylamide (CH2CHCONH2)

: An organic monomer used as a starting material for polymers that are used as coagulants or filter aids. Its concentration in finished drinking water is controlled by limiting the allowable dose of polymer that can be added to water.*

 

Active ingredient

: The component which kills or otherwise controls, targets pests in any pesticide product. Pesticides are regulated primarily on the basis of active ingredients.

 

Adsorption

: A physical process of a gas, liquid or dissolved substance being taken up by (or glued to) the surface of a solid.

 

Aeration

: The addition of air to water or to the pores in soil.

 

Aerobic

: Living or occurring in the presence of oxygen

 

Agricultural pollution

: The liquid and solid wastes from farming, includingrunoff, and leaching of pesticides and fertilizers; erosion and dust from plowing; animal manure and carcasses; crop residue; and debris.

 

Algae

: Microscopic plants that contain chlorophyll and float or suspend in water. Excess algae growths can impact tastes and odors to potable water. Their biological activities affect the pH and dissolved oxygen of the water.

 

Algal bloom

: A heavy growth of algae in and on a body of water; usually results from high nitrate and phosphate concentrations entering water bodies from farm fertilizers and detergents; phosphates also occur naturally under certain conditions

 

Alkali

: Any of certain soluble salts, principally of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, that have the property of combining with acids from neutral salts and may be used in chemical water treatment processes.

 

Alum (Al2(SO4)3•14 H2O) : The common name for aluminum sulfate, a chemical used in the coagulation process to remove particles from water.*
Aluminum (Al)

: A metallic element. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth's crust; it does not occur free in nature.*

 

Aqueduct

: Man-made canal or pipeline used to transport water.

 

Aquifer

: An underground geologic formation of rock, soil or sediment that is naturally saturated with water; an aquifer stores groundwater.

 

Anaerobic bacteria

: Any bacteria that can survive in the complete or partial absence of oxygen

 

Arsenic

: A naturally occurring element in the environment. Arsenic in drinking water commonly comes from natural sources in the ground, but some can come from industrial pollution. At high concentrations it can cause cancer.

 

Artesian well

: A well in which the water comes from a confined aquifer and is under pressure. One type of artesian well is a free-flowing artesian well where water just flows or bubbles out of the ground without being pumped.

 

Assay

: A test for a particular chemical or effect.*

 

Atmospheric transport

: The movement of air pollutants from one region to another by wind; may be hundreds of miles

 

Autotroph

: An organism that can make its own food (usually using sunlight)

 

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