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Nickel Contamination in Drinking Water Around Tampa Bay, Florida


Nickel is a naturally occurring element that is found in small amounts in food, water, soil and air. While nickel is considered an essential nutrient for some plants and animals, excessive levels of nickel in drinking water can be concerning for human health. Recent testing has detected elevated levels of nickel in well water and public water supplies in certain areas around Tampa Bay, Florida. This article will examine the presence of nickel in local drinking water, associated health risks, and effective water treatment solutions for removing nickel from water.

Presence of Nickel in Drinking Water

Nickel can enter drinking water through natural geological processes, corrosion of plumbing materials, and industrial discharges. Testing has revealed detectable amounts of nickel in both municipal water systems and private wells across parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties.

The highest nickel levels have been found in well water drawn from the Floridan Aquifer System, a vast underground reservoir that provides drinking water for much of Florida. Nickel occurs naturally in the limestone and dolostone layers of the aquifer. Older private wells tapping the aquifer are more prone to nickel contamination.

Within municipal water supplies, the most significant nickel readings have occurred in:

Hillsborough County

  • Apollo Beach

  • Brandon

  • Carrollwood

  • Gibsonton

  • Keystone

  • Lutz

  • Mango

  • Riverview

  • Ruskin

  • Sun City Center

  • Thonotosassa

  • Town 'n' Country

Pinellas County

  • Clearwater

  • Dunedin

  • Gulfport

  • Indian Rocks Beach

  • Indian Shores

  • Kenneth City

  • Madeira Beach

  • Oldsmar

  • Pinellas Park

  • Redington Beach

  • Redington Shores

  • Safety Harbor

  • St. Pete Beach

  • St. Petersburg

  • Tarpon Springs

  • Treasure Island

Pasco County

  • Bay Pines

  • Bayonet Point

  • Holiday

  • Hudson

  • Hudson Beach

  • New Port Richey

  • New Port Richey East

  • Odessa

  • Port Richey

  • San Antonio

  • Shady Hills

Polk County

  • Auburndale

  • Davenport

  • Dundee

  • Eagle Lake

  • Lake Alfred

  • Lake Hamilton

  • Lake Wales

  • Winter Haven

Nickel levels in these communities often exceed the EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 100 micrograms per liter (μg/L) for public water systems. Private wells show even higher concentrations in some cases. Ongoing testing and monitoring is needed to fully map the extent of nickel contamination around Tampa Bay.

Health Concerns with Nickel Exposure

While small amounts of nickel are normal and necessary in our diet, excessive ingestion through drinking water can pose health risks over time. The EPA has designated nickel as a probable human carcinogen when consumed orally in high doses.

Nickel is not acutely toxic, but chronic exposure is associated with an increased risk of cancers of the lung, nose, and bone. Other potential effects include cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, respiratory issues like asthma, and contact dermatitis. Sensitive populations like children and pregnant women face greater hazards from nickel-laden water.

Nickel’s toxicity depends on the dose, route of exposure, and chemical form. Soluble nickel salts that dissolve easily in water tend to be more readily absorbed and toxic compared to metallic nickel. Monitoring nickel levels and reducing exposure is especially prudent for households relying on private wells with higher contaminant readings.

While nickel in municipal supplies may not always exceed the federal MCL, proactive treatment can still minimize health risks. Ongoing research suggests there may be no completely safe dose for carcinogenic metals like nickel. Water treatment to remove nickel provides an added layer of protection for home tap water.

Effective Water Treatment Solutions

Fortunately, several effective and affordable water treatment systems are available for reducing nickel in drinking water. The best solution for your home depends on the specific water chemistry and contaminant profile. Common nickel removal options include:

Reverse Osmosis Filtration

Reverse osmosis (RO) uses a semi-permeable membrane to filter out dissolved nickel ions and other contaminants. RO removes up to 99% of nickel and provides high quality drinking water when properly maintained. However, the system wastes water through brine rejection and requires drain access.

AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System is an excellent choice for nickel removal in Tampa Bay homes.

Activated Carbon Filtration

Activated carbon adsorbs nickel ions through a process called chelation. Solid block carbon filters are typically more effective than granulated carbon for nickel removal.

The AquaCarbonGuard Filter combines catalytic carbon media with filtration to deliver exceptional nickel reduction.

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

Ion exchange softeners use resin beads to trap nickel and swap it for sodium or potassium ions. Softeners treat all the water in a home and prevent nickel from accumulating in pipes and fixtures.

AquaLux Water Softeners are wisely designed for efficient nickel and hardness removal.

Oxidizing Filters

Oxidizing filters like ozone injection convert dissolved nickel to an insoluble form that can be filtered out.

The HydroClear Ozone Generator combines the power of ozone with filtration to eliminate nickel and other contaminants.

Whole House Systems

Whole house systems combine multiple treatment processes like filtration, softening, and oxidation to maximize nickel removal. They protect all water points of use in the home.

AquaBlue Whole House Systems integrate the latest treatment technologies for optimal nickel and contaminant reduction.

Professional water testing is recommended to determine the specific treatment required to remediate nickel issues in your home’s water supply. Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions offers complete testing, treatment recommendations, and certified installation of the industry’s leading water purification systems for both residential and commercial properties across the Tampa Bay region.

Protect Your Health with Clean Water

Nickel contamination in area drinking water is an emerging health hazard that demands attention. We urge homeowners on private wells to test their water annually for nickel and other impurities. Even small amounts can add up over years of exposure. Treatment is also prudent for municipal water customers in communities with nickel detections.

Aqua-Wise has proudly served the Tampa Bay area for over 10 years. Our water experts can test your water, analyze results, and design the optimal treatment plan for your needs and budget. Visit our website to learn more and schedule a free water test at your property. Reliable water treatment brings peace of mind and better health. Your family deserves clean, contaminant-free water from every tap. Contact Aqua-Wise today to improve your home’s water quality.


  • EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations

  • CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Toxicological Profile for Nickel

  • Nickel in Drinking Water - Background Document for Development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, World Health Organization

  • USGS Fact Sheet - Nickel in the Environment

  • Occurrence of Metals in Drinking Water From Private Wells in Florida, USA, Int J Environ Res Public Health.

  • Environmental Contamination and Health Hazards from Nickel and Nickel Compounds, J Environ Anal Toxicol

Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161

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