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Why does my water smell like fish?

Why does my water smell like fish? - article image
21 Mar 2017 Océane Bidault

If you can notice a fish-like smell your coming from your taps, this is likely due to naturally occurring organic materials such as barium or cadmium metals, that have found its way into your water supply. This smell does not signify the presence of a harmful contaminant but it could indicate your drinking water is not the cleanest and should be inspected before you continue to use it for bathing and drinking.

What causes my water to smell like fish?

The main reason for an odd or fishy smell coming from your tap water is the presence of naturally occurring, organic material found in your water source. Barium is a metal that exists in mineral ores and can seep into pipes causing a foul smell in your drinking water. Cadmium is another metal that finds its way into pipes through industrial waste or fertiliser contamination. The presence of these particles don’t pose any direct threat to your health, but it is still a good idea to alert your water providerof the issue to get more information and understand if it’s a known issue.

What should I do if my water smells like fish?

You can flush your pipes to rid them of any debris or contaminants but the problem likely requires a more complex solution. Contact your water provider to discuss the issue with them directly.

To test if the smell is coming from your well or your pipes, pour a glass of tap water and go into another room. Swirl the glass around a few times and then smell. If you can’t detect the fishy smell, it is likely coming from organic material in your pipes rather than a contamination.

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