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You may have heard that public water supplies and food are filled with contaminants and chemicals. One of such chemicals is the presence of arsenic in drinking water.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that may be found all over the world, it can be found in the air, soil, and water, as well as our drinking water. In the United States of America, inorganic arsenic can be found naturally in groundwater and well water. States like New Hampshire, Maine, and Michigan, as well as locations in the Southwest and the Rockies, have higher levels of arsenic in drinking water.
Arsenic is a common environmental contaminant that enters drinking water supplies from natural or human-made sources; it affects millions of people throughout the world.
Arsenic has been linked to cancer; exposure to high amounts of arsenic can be fatal. Before I go into how to remove arsenic in water, it’s important to understand what arsenic is and where it originates from.
What is Arsenic and Where Does It Come From?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust that is used for a variety of purposes in industry and agriculture. It is also a byproduct of mining, copper smelting, and coal burning. It can be combined with other elements to produce compounds that are used to preserve the wood and kill insects in cotton and other agricultural crops.
Arsenic can also be found in pork, shellfish, chicken, fish, dairy products, and cereals; though exposure through these foods is often considerably lower than exposure from contaminated groundwater or well water. It is mostly found in seafood in its less hazardous organic form in shellfish, arsenic is mostly found in its less toxic organic form.
It can enter the water supply through natural deposits in the ground or contamination from industry and agriculture. It is generally believed that natural arsenic dissolves in some rock formations when groundwater levels drop too low.
In the United States, some industries discharge thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment each year.
What are the Safe Levels of Arsenic in Drinking Water?
According to the World Health Organization, Arsenic is one of the ten chemicals of greatest importance to public health. The organization work to minimize arsenic exposure by reviewing evidence, recommended safe levels, and providing hazard management recommendations.
Because of practical challenges in removing arsenic from drinking water, the current recommended limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 ug/L, although this recommendation value is defined as temporary because of the difficulties in removing arsenic from drinking water.
Every attempt should be to keep concentrations as low as practically possible and below the recommended value when resources are available. Though, millions of people around the world are exposed to arsenic at levels far higher than the recommended amount, reducing exposure for these people should be a public health priority.
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), is 0.010 mg/L. This is equivalent to 10 ug/L (micrograms per liter). On the basis of bladder and lung cancer risks, the EPA decreased the regulatory MCL from 50 ppb (parts per billion) to 10 ppb in 2001. Long-term exposure to arsenic-containing drinking water at levels more than 10 ppb raises the risk of cancer; while lower levels reduce the risk.
If your water has more than 10 ppb of arsenic, you should install a home water treatment system or get your drinking water from another source. Levels above 10 ppb will increase the risk of long-term or chronic health problems. The risk increases with the level and duration of exposure.
If you are pregnant or you have children, it is very important to reduce arsenic concentrations in your water. Children are at higher risk due to their higher water consumption per unit of body weight.
What are the Side effects of Arsenic in Drinking Water?
Arsenic in drinking water is absorbed by the body and circulated through the bloodstream when you ingest it. It is not absorbed through the skin or by inhalation while showering or bathing.
Arsenic is found in the highest concentrations in nails and hair, which accumulate arsenic over time. Arsenic is largely eliminated through urine, with minor amounts eliminated through the hair, skin, nails, and sweat.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, arsenic is considered a human carcinogenic agent. Its effects have been studied in a Taiwanese population where arsenic levels in drinking water are naturally high (over 0.35 ppm). The findings indicate that drinking water with extremely high arsenic levels increases the risk of cancer in internal organs including the bladder, liver, and lungs over time.
The following are the effect of long-term and short-term exposure.
Long-term exposure to high amounts of arsenic in drinking water over many years can lead to:
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Irregular heartbeat and blood vessel damage
- Thickening and discoloration of the skin
- decreased production of blood cells
- Numbness in hands and feet.
Short-term exposure to very high levels of arsenic in drinking water can cause the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps or pain
- Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Loss of movement and sensory responses
- Weakness and flushing of skin, skin rash
- Burning, numbness, and tingling sensation or pain in the hands and feet
How to Remove Arsenic in Water?
Arsenic can be removed from water in a variety of ways, ranging from simple to complex. The following are the most effective methods of removing arsenic from water.
Reverse Osmosis Filter: How to Remove Arsenic from Water at Home
This is the most effective method of removing arsenic from water. Using a semipermeable membrane allows only the right substances to flow through the filter, leaving the arsenic particles at the exit point. The good thing about the Reverse Osmosis system is that it can remove 99 percent of arsenic from drinking water.
You can install Reverse Osmosis at the point of entry or at the point of use. The term “point-of-entry” refers to the fact that the treatment unit is situated where the water enters the residence or structure, ensuring that all the water is treated. While the point of use means that the treatment unit is installed on the tap so that only the water used from that tap is treated. It may be more economical to use Reverse Osmosis to treat water that will be used for drinking, cooking, and dental hygiene.
Check out the best Reverse Osmosis systems that remove Arsenic from water.
Distillation: How to Remove Arsenic from Water Naturally
This is another great method for removing arsenic from water. It works on the evaporation principle. Once you pour the water into the home water distiller, it will evaporate all the harmful substances, including arsenic and its products, from the moisture. Therefore, all arsenic-related contaminants are removed, leaving only clean water for drinking and other activities.
Check out the best water distillers that remove Arsenic from water.
Ion Exchange: How to Remove Arsenic from Well Water
Arsenic-contaminated water can be treated with ion exchange resin. Arsenic particles are trapped by the anion resin, which prevents them from entering your home.
In this method, the arsenic is substituted with lower levels of a non-toxic contaminant, usually sodium. When the resin bed is full, the treatment system will flush it and remove the arsenic particles in a process known as regeneration. You will have to refill the salt every three months or so, you have to be ready for the extra maintenance cost before investing in this type of water treatment.
What is the Best Way to Remove Arsenic from Well Water?
The most effective way to remove arsenic from well water is Reverse Osmosis, commonly known as RO. Reverse osmosis can be thought of as filtration at the molecular level. It works by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane. This process removes copper, sodium, lead, arsenic, and many other contaminants. It removes fifth arsenic at a higher rate than third arsenic, making pretreatment important for best results.
In many cases, Reverse Osmosis is the ideal method of removing arsenic from the groundwater before it enters the home. Although some of these systems could be expensive, they are worth it if your water contains dangerous amounts of arsenic. What makes Reverse Osmosis the best method to remove arsenic is that it effectively reduces As5 in water.
One of the best countertop water filters that remove arsenic from well water is APEC RO-CTOP-C.
Can You Remove Arsenic from Water by Boiling It?
Some people believe that boiling Arsenic will remove it from the water, but this is a misconception. So don’t make the mistake of boiling water just for the purpose of removing arsenic. It will condense the arsenic in a more specific way.
FAQ on How to Get Rid of Arsenic in Water
1. Can you remove the arsenic from water by boiling it?
No. Boiling the water will not remove the arsenic contaminants.
2. How to remove Arsenic from drinking water?
The best way to remove Arsenic from drinking water is to install a point-of-use Reverse Osmosis system.
Conclusion on How to Remove Arsenic in Water
As you can see, this article provides a comprehensive guide on how to remove arsenic from water using some of the most effective methods.
The best method to remove arsenic and other contaminated chemicals from water is Reverse Osmosis. This is a great and cost-effective system that can make your home safer by removing some of the most toxic chemicals and minerals from your drinking water.
Make sure that all the methods are used according to the experts’ or professionals’ guidelines. The removal of arsenic from water is necessary to eliminate various diseases and have healthy water.