Why is it important to know how to remove Arsenic in Well Water?
Arsenic is a semi-metallic element that occurs naturally and may be found on land, in water, and even in the atmosphere. In several states in the United States, arsenic is found in groundwater at levels greater than the approved water standard.
Because of the indigenous bedrock, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, and numerous other states are particularly vulnerable to high arsenic levels.
These high amounts of arsenic in drinking water may be harmful to your health, and it is your obligation as a private well owner to test for arsenic and treat water properly.
In this article, I’ll go over the basics of arsenic in private wells and how to remove it from your water using techniques like reverse osmosis, distillation, and ion exchange.
What is Arsenic?
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust that is frequently mixed with other elements.
Arsenic may be found in our water, soil, and air due to natural processes such as weathering of rocks and minerals, as well as human activity such as mining.
We have no influence over how much arsenic is prevalent in our environment, and some areas have greater amounts than others.
Arsenic 3 vs Arsenic 5
Arsenic comes in two valence number ratings: arsenic 3 and arsenic 5.
Arsenic 3 (arsenite) is a less hazardous form of arsenic than arsenic 5 (arsenate).
While both arsenate and arsenite are hazardous to one’s health, arsenite is more deadly — and more difficult to remove from water.
Because arsenate oxidizes in the presence of free chlorine or a comparable oxidant, it is easier to remove from water.
Health Concerns Associated With Arsenic in Drinking Water
Long-term water arsenic exposure can cause a variety of health concerns.
According to the WHO, arsenic exposure or consumption is linked to bladder cancer, lung and kidney cancer, and skin lesions; cardiovascular disease and diabetes; numbness in hands and feet; paralysis in hands and feet and other parts of the body; cognitive development effects in babies and children exposed in the womb; and an increased risk of death among young adults.
Aside from the long-term consequences of arsenic exposure, short-term exposure to dangerous quantities of arsenic can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.
How Does Arsenic Get Into Water?
There are various ways in which this metal might get into private well water.
Rainwater or snow soaking through the earth’s rock and soil, leaching the element from the environment, is the most prevalent source of dissolved arsenic in states with greater levels of the pollutant in groundwater. States like New Hampshire and Arizona may have a larger concentration.
Agricultural and industrial contamination can potentially pollute drinking water with arsenic.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) regulations for a variety of naturally occurring groundwater pollutants that may be discovered in drinking water.
Arsenic is measured in parts per billion (PPB), or micrograms per liter.
If you get your water from a municipal source, it must have no more than 10 parts per billion of this pollutant. When you possess a private well, things get a little more complicated.
Because it is the owner’s sole obligation to ensure that their drinking water arsenic levels are less than 10 PPB, private wells are exempt from these Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.
It’s advised that you test your well once a year, and this is especially crucial if you reside in an area where groundwater arsenic levels are high.
What arsenic levels in drinking water are considered safe?
The EPA’s drinking water limit for arsenic is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Despite this requirement, drinking water with even 10 ppb can be harmful to your health over time. At low enough amounts, removing arsenic from your water may not be essential.
Water that we consume, on the other hand, should have no arsenic at all. Because the EPA does not hold private well owners liable, they should install filtration systems to guarantee that all pollutants, not only arsenic, are eliminated.
How to Test for Arsenic in Private Well Water
You won’t know whether arsenic is in your water until you conduct a well test because it has no color, taste, or odor.
Even though your well isn’t legally required to satisfy any water quality requirements, it’s advised that you test your water for arsenic every three years, if not more frequently. The testing is for the sake of your health and that of your family.
Using a private laboratory or public health agency, ideally one that is state-certified, to conduct a specific well water test is the most complete and preferable testing option.
You can get all the information you need regarding your arsenic contaminate drinking water from a laboratory.
You won’t just find out if your well has arsenic; you’ll also find out how much arsenic is in your water with the water tested.
Buying your own at-home water testing kit provides an alternative to laboratory testing.
An at-home test kit typically requires you to obtain a water sample and soak a testing strip for several seconds. When you remove the strip, it will have changed color to reflect the amount of arsenic in your water.
While home test kits are beneficial for establishing whether or not arsenic is present in the water tested, getting your drinking water tested for arsenic by a qualified lab will provide far more reliable findings.
You can respond appropriately once you know how much arsenic you’re dealing with.
Arsenic of less than 10 PPB are deemed safe to drink, cook with, and use in other home applications.
However, due to the cancer danger, you may still believe it is necessary to eliminate even trace levels of this metal.
If this is the case, I go over the best arsenic removal procedures at the bottom of this page. Because the amounts of arsenic in your local groundwater may fluctuate regularly, test your well for this metal once every three years.
If your well has 10 PPB arsenic or more, you should cease drinking it until you install an arsenic removal system.
You may still use your water to water your plants, but you should avoid drinking it or giving it to your pets. After you’ve installed an appropriate filter, you should test the system again to ensure it’s operating properly.
How to remove arsenic in well water? – Inexpensive and Easy!
How can you treat water with arsenic in it? Because not all filter systems can remove this metal from water, double-check that a water treatment system is right for you before you spend your money.
Some of the top arsenic water treatment methods for private wells are listed below:
Arsenic contaminate drinking water can be treated with ion exchange resin. Arsenic particles are trapped by an anion resin, which prevents them from entering your house. The arsenic will be replaced by low quantities of a non-toxic contaminant, generally sodium, in this method of water treatment (salt).
When the resin bed is full, the treatment system will cleanse it and remove the arsenic particles in a process known as regeneration.
Ion exchange systems range in price from $300 to $1,200, depending on their sophistication.
You’ll have to replace the salt every three months or so, so include that into your budget before investing in this type of well water treatment. After 6 to 8 years, the media will need to be replaced.
Reverse Osmosis – Filtering Arsenic from well water
Reverse osmosis is extremely successful in removing arsenic from drinking water, as well as hundreds of other organic and inorganic materials.
A reverse osmosis membrane and many filters make up this type of water treatment system. Some systems may be placed at your home’s point of entry, providing clean, arsenic-free water to your whole house’s water supply.
Reverse osmosis may remove up to 99 percent of arsenic from your water, but a regular filter may merely lower it.
Reverse osmosis is one of the greatest at-home water treatment systems for all-around contaminant or arsenic removal since the RO membrane rejects contaminants of all sizes, from sediment to metals and small bacteria, allowing only water particles to pass through.
Useful location Most reverse osmosis systems cost between $150 and $400, while some are more expensive. They can survive for more than a decade, but the filters and RO membrane will need to be replaced on a regular basis to keep the system running smoothly.
Distillation is a fantastic alternative if you only want to treat water and not your entire home’s water supply.
Distillers are not required to be put at the entrance to your property. Instead, they’re a portable water purification system that can be set up on a kitchen countertop in minutes.
Electricity is required to run distillers. When you plug in a distiller system and add water to the boiling chamber, the water evaporates before travelling down a corridor and condensing into a clean carafe.
Because most pollutants, including arsenic, are unable to evaporate, they are trapped in the boiling chamber.
The evaporated and condensed water has excellent water quality, with essentially no contaminants remaining.
Distillation’s sole drawback is that it takes a long time – generally several hours – to distill a batch of water, so it’s not as quick as other methods.
Distillation therapy is one of the most cost-effective solutions on this list, costing between $100 and $150.
Distillers are inexpensive to operate since they require very little maintenance. Some distillers feature a tiny carbon filter to cleanse distilled water and remove any remaining contaminants, but many people prefer not to use these filters because they aren’t necessary.
An activated alumina system employs alumina medium to absorb a variety of pollutants found in well water.
Using chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide to transform arsenic into a form that may be absorbed in oxidation is typically required to remove arsenic with this sort of filter.
Alumina filtration can handle water with a high amount of arsenic while still providing clean, readily available water for the entire household.
For the system to work, the water pH must be around 7, and most systems can create up to 10 gallons of water every minute.
Iron can be filtered by most activated alumina systems. They cost between $40 and $70, not including the expense of filter media replacement.
You may find that purchasing this sort of activated alumina filter as part of a more comprehensive filtering system that removes a wider range of contaminants from your water supply is a better alternative.
Can I cook with arsenic-contaminated water?
For cooking, the safety threshold for arsenic in drinking water is greater than for drinking. While 10 parts per billion or less is deemed acceptable for drinking, the Oregon Health Authority considers water with 50 parts per billion or less suitable for cooking.
How safe it is to cook with arsenic-contaminated water depends on what you prepare. When pasta, rice, oats, and herbs are cooked, they absorb water and become more susceptible to arsenic poisoning. Foods that are water-based, such as stews and soups, should also be prepared with caution.
While cooking with arsenic levels of 10 to 50 ppb is permissible, drinking water with these quantities poses a health risk. Water with less than 10 parts per billion of arsenic should be used to make coffee, tea, and other water-based beverages.
Keep in mind that children are more vulnerable to inorganic arsenic exposure than adults. Cooking with water containing more than 35 ppb of arsenic is not recommended for optimal safety. Water used to wash fruits and vegetables falls under this category.
Do I need whole-house water treatment?
It is critical to remove arsenic from water at the point of use where it will be eaten. Inorganic arsenic or inorganic materials is harmful when it enters the body, yet it is difficult to absorb through the skin.
If not swallowed, water with arsenic concentrations of less than 500 ppb is safe for point-of-entry purposes including bathing and gardening. Keep in mind that while showering, brushing their teeth, or swimming, youngsters may drink water.
If the quantity of arsenic in drinking water exceeds the acceptable drinking limit, children must be closely monitored to avoid ingesting lethal amounts of arsenic.
Other compounds may be found in your water if arsenic is present. You’ll need to test for other toxins to see if point-of-entry filtration is required in your house.