Wondering how to remove arsenic in water? Read on to discover the most effective way to get rid of arsenic!
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 an element that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust and is utilized for various industrial and agricultural purposes. It is also generated as a byproduct of mining, copper smelting, and coal burning. Arsenic can form compounds with other elements that are used for preserving wood and killing insects in agricultural crops like cotton.
Though arsenic can be found in foods like pork, shellfish, chicken, fish, dairy products, and cereals, the exposure to it through these sources is often lower than exposure from contaminated well or groundwater. In seafood, it is found in its less hazardous organic form, primarily in shellfish.
Arsenic can contaminate the water supply naturally due to its presence in the ground, or it can be a result of industrial and agricultural contamination. It is generally believed that natural arsenic dissolves in specific rock formations when groundwater levels drop too low.
In the United States, some industries release large amounts of arsenic into the environment every year.
Is Arsenic in Drinking Water Harmful to Human?
According to the World Health Organization, Arsenic is one of the ten chemicals of public health concern.
The organization work to minimize arsenic exposure by reviewing evidence, recommended safe levels, and providing hazard management recommendations.
What are the Safe Levels of Arsenic in Drinking Water?
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:
- 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:
- 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 under-sink Reverse Osmosis systems that remove arsenic from well water is Waterdrop G3P800 RO System (read the review here).
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 boiling water remove arsenic?
No, boiling water will not remove arsenic. In fact, boiling water can actually concentrate the levels of arsenic in the water.
2. How can I remove arsenic from my drinking water?
There are several methods for removing arsenic from drinking water, including reverse osmosis, activated alumina filtration, and ion exchange. It is recommended that you consult with a professional water treatment company to determine which method is best for your specific situation.
How can I test for arsenic in my water?
There are different options for testing your water for arsenic. You can hire a professional water testing company, purchase an arsenic testing kit, or contact your local health department to inquire about testing options in your area.
Are there any natural ways to remove arsenic from water?
Yes, some natural options for removing arsenic from water include using iron oxide-coated sand, constructed wetlands, or biochar filters. However, these methods may not be as effective as some of the more traditional water treatment options.
How can I prevent exposure to arsenic in my water?
If you are concerned about exposure to arsenic in your water, it is recommended that you use a certified water treatment system to remove the arsenic. You can also consider drinking bottled water or using a water source that has been tested and found to be safe.
Conclusion: How to Remove Arsenic in Water Effectively
In conclusion, removing arsenic from water is a critical step to ensure safe and healthy drinking water. While there are several methods available to remove arsenic, the most effective approach depends on the concentration of arsenic in the water and the specific needs of the household or facility.
Some effective methods for removing arsenic include reverse osmosis, activated alumina, and ion exchange. It is also essential to regularly test water for arsenic levels and monitor the effectiveness of the chosen removal method.
The best method to remove arsenic and other contaminated chemicals from water is Reverse Osmosis. It 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.
In addition to treating the water, it is crucial to prevent exposure to arsenic by avoiding contaminated water sources and maintaining good hygiene practices.
By taking the necessary steps to remove arsenic from water and prevent exposure, individuals can protect themselves and their families from the harmful effects of arsenic contamination.