Do You Have Arsenic in Your Well Water?
Many Minnesotans are surprised to learn that their well water may be contaminated with arsenic. Like any other toxic substance, the effects of arsenic in your well water depend on how much and how long you are exposed to it. The information presented here comes from the Minnesota Department of Health website.
How Arsenic Gets Into Your Well Water
Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and rock which can dissolve into your groundwater, the primary source of drinking water in Minnesota. When arsenic is found in well water, the source is almost always naturally occurring.
We can blame ourselves for some sources of arsenic in groundwater. While arsenic is not in common use today, it was used as an ingredient in some pesticides. Residue does exist from past use and improper disposal.
As recent as 2004, arsenic was used in some wood preservatives used to treat wooden foundations, decks and children's play equipment.
Arsenic In Your Well Water
Arsenic in water has no taste or odor and can contaminate groundwater anywhere. Groundwater in Minnesota from the Twin Cities west to the South Dakota border are likely areas for arsenic contamination. The level of arsenic contamination in wells will vary from one well to another.
Studies of groundwater in Minnesota and other states indicate natural arsenic concentrations exceeding 10 micrograms per liter are more common than previously thought. It is estimated that 10% of all wells in Minnesota have elevated levels of arsenic.
Testing Your Well Water For Arsenic
Since arsenic has no taste or odor, the only way to know if you have an arsenic contamination problem in your well water is to have your water tested.
If no arsenic is detected, additional testing is not usually needed. Should your well test positive for arsenic at levels greater than 10 micrograms, and re-testing confirms the contamination you should use another well for drinking and cooking water or install a treatment system.
Treatment Methods For Wells Contaminated With Arsenic
Install a water treatment system. There are several types of water treatment systems that can effectively reduce arsenic levels in your drinking water.
- Specialty Media. Special removal medias using "ferric (iron) hydroxide, ferric oxide or iron-enhanced ion exchange resins.
- Reverse Osmosis. Reverse Osmosis is a water treatment process that removes most dissolved, inorganic contaminants by forcing the water through a special membrane.
- Distillation Systems. Distillation is a water treatment process that boils water, then cools the steam until it condenses into a separate container. The dissolved contaminates are left behind in the boiling pot.
The Bottom Line
What it comes down to is this, If your well water is contaminated with elevated levels of arsenic you can either install a filter or be the filter.
AEM Mechanical Services, Inc. is qualified to deal with well water contamination. We will help you collect a sample of your well water and send the sample in for testing by certified technicians at an independent lab. If your well water test does show your well to be contaminated with arsenic, AEM Mechanical is qualified to install the appropriate system to treat your well water protecting your family from elevated levels of arsenic.
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