Natural semi-metallic element arsenic is present in all environments, including the air, water, and land. In several US states, groundwater often contains inorganic arsenic at levels over the acceptable guideline for drinking water.
Due to their native bedrock, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, and a few other states are particularly vulnerable to high arsenic levels.
As the owner of a private well, it is your duty to test for arsenic and treat your water appropriately for arsenic removal since very high amounts of arsenic in drinking water may have negative health effects.
I’ll offer an introduction to arsenic in private wells in this post and go through how to get rid of it from your water by using techniques like reverse osmosis, distillation, and ion exchange.
What is Arsenic?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is frequently mixed with other elements in the crust of the earth.
Arsenic contamination of our water, soil, and air may be caused by both natural and human processes in the earth, such as the weathering of rocks and minerals and mining.
The amount of arsenic in our environment is beyond of our control, and in certain places, it is more prevalent than in others.
Arsenic 3 vs Arsenic 5
The valence number ratings of arsenic are 3 and 5, respectively.
Compared to arsenic 5, also known as arsenate, arsenic 3, also known as arsenite, is less dangerous.
Both arsenate and arsenite are unhealthy, but arsenite is more poisonous and often more challenging to remove arsenic from water.
Since it oxidizes in the presence of free chlorine or any comparable oxidant, argonate is easier to remove it from water.
Health Risks Associated With Arsenic in Drinking Water
Drinking water contaminated with arsenic over an extended period of time may cause a variety of health problems.
Inorganic arsenic exposure or ingestion has been associated with various health issues, including bladder, lung, and kidney cancer, skin blemishes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as paralysis, numbness in the hands and feet, and other regions of the body.
Additionally, exposure during infancy can affect cognitive development in children, while young individuals face an elevated risk of mortality.
Short-term exposure to arsenic at dangerous levels can have negative health impacts as well, such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Long-term exposure may also have negative health effects.
How Does Arsenic Get Into Water?
This metal may infiltrate private well water in a number of various ways.
Rainwater or snow soaking through the earth’s rock and soil and leaching the element from the environment is the most frequent source of dissolved arsenic in states with greater levels of the pollutant in groundwater.
States like Arizona and New Hampshire may have a greater concentration of this substance.
Drinking water can get contaminated with arsenic as a result of industrial pollution and agricultural contamination.
The MCL, or Maximum Contaminant Level, is a standard established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the greatest permissible level of certain groundwater pollutants that occur naturally, and that may be present in drinking water.
The limit for arsenic is 10 PPB, or micrograms per liter, or parts per billion.
You are required by law to limit the amount of this pollutant (doesn’t matter from industrial pollution or otherwise) in your water if it comes from a municipal source to no more than 10 PPB.
When you possess a private well, things become a little more complicated.
Private well owners are solely responsible for ensuring that the arsenic level in their drinking water is less than 10 PPB, hence they are essentially free from these EPA guidelines.
It is advised that you test your well once a year, and this is especially crucial if you reside in an area with high levels of groundwater arsenic.
How to Test for Arsenic in Private Well Water
You won’t know if arsenic is in your water until you do a test on your well because it has no color, taste, or odor.
Despite the fact that your well is not legally required to fulfill any water quality requirements, it is advised that you check your water for arsenic at least once every three years. The testing is necessary for the health of you and your family.
Using a private laboratory or public health agency, ideally one that is state-certified, to carry out a specific well water test is the most complete and preferable testing option.
You may get all the details you want regarding your arsenic-contaminated water from a laboratory.
Not only will you find out if your well has arsenic, but you’ll also be told how much of it is in your water.
Investing in your own at-home water testing kit is an alternative to laboratory testing.
A testing strip must typically be dipped into a water sample and submerged for a few seconds in an at-home test kit. The strip will have changed color when you remove it to show how much arsenic is present in your drinking water.
Although home test kits are helpful in establishing whether arsenic is present in the water tested, a certified lab’s arsenic test will provide considerably more reliable findings.
When you are aware of the level of arsenic present, you may take appropriate action.
Lower than 10 PPB arsenic concentrations are regarded as safe for drinking, cooking, and other home purposes.
Nonetheless, you can still believe that it’s crucial to get rid of even minute levels of this metal due to the possibility of cancer.
If so, I discuss the most effective ways to remove arsenic at the end of this tutorial. While the amounts of arsenic in your local groundwater may fluctuate often, make sure to continue testing your well for this metal every three years.
If you find that your well has 10 PPB or more arsenic, you should cease using it as your water supply until you have an arsenic removal system in place.
You may still use your water to water your plants, but you should avoid giving it to your dogs or yourself to drink. When you’ve put in an appropriate filter, you should test the system once again to make sure it’s functioning properly.
How to Remove Arsenic from Water? How to remove arsenic in well water
How can arsenic in well water be treated? You should double-check that a treatment system is appropriate before you part with your money because not all filter techniques can remove arsenic from water.
The following are some of the top private well arsenic water treatment systems:
Water containing arsenic can be treated using ion exchange resin. Particles of arsenic are stopped from entering your home by an anion resin, which traps them. With this form of water treatment, modest concentrations of a non-toxic impurity—typically sodium—will replace the arsenic (salt).
When the resin bed is full, this treatment system will regenerate the resin bed by flushing it and removing arsenic particles.
Ion exchange systems often range in price from $300 to $1,200 depending on the system’s sophistication.
When investing in this type of well water treatment, keep in mind that you will need to replace the salt about every three months. After around six to eight years, the media will need to be replaced in order for the process of removing arsenic to be smooth.
Distillation is a fantastic choice if you only want to treat your drinking water and not your entire home’s water supply.
It’s not necessary to place distillers at the point of entry to your property. They are a portable water treatment option that can be set up on a kitchen countertop in a couple of minutes.
Electricity is required to run distilleries. Water will evaporate when you plug in a distiller system and add water to the boiling chamber. The water will then move through a passageway and condense into a clean carafe.
The majority of pollutants, including arsenic, are unable to evaporate, therefore they remain in the boiling chamber.
The water that has evaporated and condensed has a very high quality, with almost no contaminants still present.
Distillation’s sole drawback is that it takes a long time—typically several hours—to distill a batch of water, making it less convenient than other methods.
Distillation therapy is one of the least expensive choices on our list, costing between $100 and $150.
Although some distillers feature a tiny carbon filter to purify the water after it has been distilled, eliminating any leftover contaminants, many people opt not to use these filters since they are virtually no maintenance, therefore distillers are also inexpensive to maintain.
Arsenic and hundreds of other organic and inorganic contaminants may be eliminated from your drinking water using reverse osmosis.
A reverse osmosis membrane and many filters make up this kind of water treatment system. Some systems may be placed at the point of entry to your home, providing clean, arsenic-free water for your whole household’s water supply.
Reverse osmosis may remove up to 99% of the arsenic in your water, but a regular filter may merely lower the amount.
Reverse osmosis is one of the greatest at-home water treatment methods for overall pollutant removal due to the reverse osmosis membrane, which rejects contaminants of all sizes, including silt, metals, and microscopic bacteria while allowing only water particles to pass through.
Useful Point The typical price range for RO systems is $150 to $400, while some are more expensive.
The filters and RO membrane will need to be changed periodically to maintain the system’s excellent performance even though they can last for more than a decade.
An alumina medium that absorbs a variety of typical well water pollutants is used in activated alumina systems.
Normally, you will need to use hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach to change the form of the arsenic into a form that can be absorbed in oxidation in order to achieve arsenic removal using this sort of filter.
High levels of arsenic may be treated using alumina filtration, giving your entire family with clean, easily accessible drinking water.
Most systems can create up to 10 gallons of water per minute, and they work best with water that has a pH of approximately 7.
The majority of activated alumina filters can also remove iron. They cost between $40 to $70, not including the price of new filter media.
You could discover that investing in a system that includes this kind of filter and removes a wider spectrum of contaminants from your water supply is a better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions for How To Remove Arsenic in Well Water
Am I susceptible to arsenic poisoning?
You are probably at risk for certain adverse consequences of arsenic exposure if you consume water from a well. Although some city water may have minor amounts of arsenic, wells are the primary source of well-water-related arsenic poisoning.
Although drinking tap water may not immediately cause acute arsenic poisoning, it can still cause long-term health issues. You may find information on arsenic in well water as well as recommended levels of arsenic for drinking and cooking below.
What quantities of arsenic in drinking water are considered safe?
The EPA also known as the Environmental Protection Agency, drinking water limit for arsenic is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Notwithstanding this requirement, drinking water with even 10 ppb over a lengthy period of time can be harmful to health.
If the amounts are low enough, you might not need to filter the arsenic out of your water. Yet, the ideal level of arsenic in water is zero.
Private well owners should install filtration systems to guarantee that all pollutants, not only arsenic, are eliminated since the EPA does not hold private wells accountable.
Can I use arsenic-contaminated water to cook?
For cooking rather than drinking, there is a greater safety limit for arsenic in water.
The Oregon Health Authority defines safe water for cooking as having a concentration of 50 ppb or less rather than the 10 ppb that is deemed acceptable for drinking. How safe it is to cook with water tainted with arsenic depends on what you prepare.
When cooked, pasta, rice, oats, and herbs all absorb water, increasing the risk of arsenic poisoning from diets containing these ingredients. Also, while preparing foods that include water, such as some stews and soups, caution should be used.
While water with arsenic concentrations between 10 and 50 ppb can be used for cooking, drinking water with these levels poses a health risk.
Water with less than 10 ppb of arsenic should be used to make coffee, tea, and other water-based beverages.
Remember that children are more vulnerable to the dangers of inorganic exposure than adults. You should refrain from using water that has more than 35 ppb of arsenic when cooking for best safety.
Included in this is the water required to wash produce.