Arsenic and Your Well Water: Part 3 of 3

Source: www.periodtable.com

Source: www.periodtable.com

Last post we discussed the potential health effects of arsenic exposure. This week, we will focus on how to treat an arsenic problem in your water.

Once your arsenic levels are tested, the degree of the cleanup job must be assessed.

How can you reduce high levels of arsenic in water?

If the arsenic level in your water is at or above 10 µg/L, refrain from consumption such as drinking or cooking.

There are two strategies to remove a contaminant from the water you use:Read More

Arsenic and Your Well Water: Part 2 of 3

Arsenic, part 2

Dangers of Arsenic Exposure

Unfortunately, arsenic is very difficult to detect. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. For this reason, people can be easily and unknowingly be exposed to high levels of arsenic in their water.

As discussed in Part 1 of this series of blog posts, food is a large source of arsenic into our bodies. Apples, poultry,  mushrooms, rice, and rice cereal all can accumulate high concentrations of the contaminant. Not only are these foods staples in the diets of many across the world, they are also especially crucial in the diets of young children.

However, the dose determines the poison. We breathe, consume, and digest small amounts of arsenic every day.

How the body absorbs, processes, and disposes of the chemical are important considerations in determining how a contaminant affects the body. Organic arsenic  flushes through the system within several days, while small amounts of inorganic arsenic after ingestion can remain processing in the body for several months. Inorganic and organic arsenic both exit the body through urine.

arsenic sites, Map of arsenic in groundwater of the US

Arsenic in groundwater in the United States.

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning range from nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diminished nerve function particularly in the hands and feet. Cases of long term exposure are most noted by darkened skin spots and the development of warts on the surface of the skin. From the severe disruption of the skin’s normal biological defenses, different types of cancer can develop.

The western US, the midwest, and certain localities in Texas have been found to have elevated levels of arsenic in the drinking water. Arsenic levels were taken by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at each of 31,350 wells across the country, represented each by a point on this map.

How To Tell If Arsenic Is In Your Well Water

If you or your community relies heavily on private wells for drinking and cooking water, it is crucial to consistently get the arsenic levels tested in your wells. A lab test is the most reliable method of quantifying the contaminant.

Arsenic part 2 -- testing, General Clean Water test from Clean Water Store

General Clean Water test from Clean Water Store.

Though the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the EPA is 10 ppm, the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for arsenic is 0 ppm. Both of these concentrations refer to total arsenic, organic and inorganic.

Testing is likely available through your state’s drinking water agency. In addition, Clean Water Stores has certified arsenic test kits available that are easy to do at home and reliable.

For more information, the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry creates Public Health Statements for known environmental contaminants, including arsenic.

Part 3 of our series on Arsenic will come out next week. It will address how arsenic in wells can be treated! Stay tuned for remediation protocols for this serious water health issue on the CWS blog.


 


Arsenic and Your Well Water: Part 1 of 3

 Arsenic stone

Source: www.periodtable.com

Arsenic is a natural element that is commonly found in water, air, soils and plants and animals. Agricultural and industrial sources can also release arsenic into the environment.

It is can be found in two different forms:

  • Inorganic –  these inorganic compounds form from the interaction with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur, usually found in building products, industrial effluent, and in fresh water exposed to these point sources. This form is considered the more toxic form, as it has been linked with the development of certain cancers.
  • Organic – This is the much less toxic form. It  is commonly used in pesticides and found in certain organisms, particularly fish and shellfish who accumulate it in their tissues.

pure water, no arsenic

Read More

Contaminant of the Week: Iron Bacteria

Iron bacteria are organisms that consume iron to survive. In the process, they oxidize available iron that produces iron deposits (rust) and a red or brown slime called a “biofilm.” Though the organisms are not harmful to humans,they can exacerbate an already troublesome iron issue in water.

Read More

How to Collect a Water Sample for Well Water Testing

Collecting a water sample for a laboratory water analysis is a critical step in the process of having your water analyzed. When collecting the samples, it is critical is to follow the directions outlined in the sample kit.

Something as simple as testing your hot water instead of cold, or testing the water that instantly comes out of the faucet instead of after two minutes can make a difference. A few simple steps and precautions taken during the collection process will insure that your sample will be accurately analyzed.

Avoiding Contamination
Water samples can be easily contaminated during the collection process if done incorrectly. Some of the steps to avoiding contamination include NEVER:

  • Rinsing the sampling bottle
  • Let water overflow or splash down the side of the bottle
  • Put the cap on a countertop (it can get contaminated)
  • Open the bottle until you are ready to collect your sample
  • Touch the inside of the cap, mouth, or neck of the bottle
  • Collect samples from a garden hose, outside tap, or other place that might be dirty

If you are testing for bacteria, avoiding contamination will be especially important to avoid false positives. Additional steps should be taken, including:

  • If collecting from a faucet, remove any aerators or filtration Collect Water Sample systems
  • Sterilize the faucet in order to eliminate any bacteria on the faucet
  • Sample from cold water, allow the faucet to flow for 2-3 minutes in order to clear the line
  • Fill only to the designated fill line (a sufficient “headspace” is required to properly mix the sample)
  • For an accurate bacteria test, it will have to be received by the lab within 24 hours. Overnight shipping is required and should not be shipped before the weekend or any holiday. Also, ship it with an ice pack to ensure valid bacteria results.

WaterCheck Lab Test Sample Collection Guidlines

If you are collecting a water sample for the WaterCheck test kits, here are some important instructions:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Take the sample from a cold water tap. Use a tap without a screen or remove the screen before you collect the sample.
  • Let the cold water run constantly for at least 2 minutes before you collect the sample.
  • Hold the bottle near the base of the tap to get the sample. Fill it past the 200 mL mark (to the shoulder of the bottle). Do not overfill the bottle.
  • Put the cap on the bottle right away. Make sure the cap is secure, but do not over-tighten it.
  • If your test requires preservatives, do not forget to use them correctly
  • Put the identification label from the requisition form on the bottle.

Sampling Instructions

Fill out the requisition form and include the information below. If you miss anything on the requisition, your sample might not be processed.

  • Name and daytime phone number
  • Mailing address and postal code
  • Collection site (e.g., kitchen sink)
  • Legal land description and/or civic address
  • Date and time sample was collected
  • Name of person who collected the sample

On the requisition form, write down if this is a re-sample. You also need to fill out section A (Drinking Water) and add any comments or special requests at the bottom of the requisition.

  • Put the sample and requisition form in the plastic bag that came with the sample bottle.
  • Put the sample in a cooler filled with ice packs and bring it to a drop-off location near you right away, or if sending by express, use overnight next day morning option.

Thanks for reading!


Coliform Bacteria Contamination: Causes, How To Test For Bacteria, and Prevention

bacteria
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally not harmful. However, the presence of these bacteria in well water or spring water usually indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease and can even contaminate your well water without any change in taste or odor to the water. Therefore, the US EPA recommends annual testing of residential water wells for coliform bacteria.Read More

Well Water Testing and Test Kits: Which Kit is Best for Your Well Water?

There are a large number of water testing labs and test kits on the market for the home water well owner. This brief article looks at the different options you can choose from in order to make sure your water is safe. If you already understand your water is safe but are attempting to solve a specific well water problem such as staining, odors or corrosion there are a number of excellent home test kits now available. You can easily analyze your water in the convenience of your home and get immediate results.Read More

Nitrates In Well Water

Nitrates and nitrites have become a concern in areas with excessive agricultural runoff or septic system use. Nitrate (NO3) is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless naturally occurring chemical. They are most commonly used as fertilizer and can enter our drinking water through agriculture runoff, leaking from septic tanks, sewage, and erosion of natural deposits. Read More

Giardia – Its Effects, How to Test for It, and How to Treat It

Giardia effects – According to the EPA’s Giardia fact sheet: Giardia (je-ar’de-ah) are protozoan parasites which occur in a trophozoite and an oval-shaped cyst form.  They are commonly excreted in the feces of an infected host, after which they can move freely through the environment. Infection is transmitted when these excreted cysts are ingested by another suitable host.Read More

Low pH in Water: Its Effects, How to Test for It, and How to Treat It

From the U.S. EPA website:

The pH scale measures the logarithmic concentration of hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions, which make up water (H+ + OH- = H2O). When both types of ions are in equal concentration, the pH is 7.0 or neutral. Below 7.0, the water is acidic (there are more hydrogen ions than hydroxide ions). When the pH is above 7.0, the water is alkaline, or basic (there are more hydroxide ions than hydrogen ions). Since the scale is logarithmic, a drop in the pH by 1.0 unit is equivalent to a 10-fold increase in acidity. So, a water sample with a pH of 5.0 is 10 times as acidic as one with a pH of 6.0, and pH 4.0 is 100 times as acidic as pH 6.0.

Read More