Arsenic is widely used as a poison, and many homeowners are alarmed to discover that it may be present in their well water. What can you do if your well water tests positive for arsenic, and can you remove it? Those questions and more will be addressed in the article below.
Arsenic: What is It?
Arsenic is an element, naturally occurring in soils and rocks, as well as in water that comes into contact with those soils and rocks. It's tasteless and odorless, and it can be combined with other elements to form non-organic and organic compounds. Generally, non-organic compounds are thought of as more poisonous than organic compounds; food can contain both, but inorganic compounds are commonly found in water.
Exposure to Arsenic
High-level exposure can pose serious health risks, as it's known to cause cancer in humans. Arsenic has also been known to affect the vascular system, and it is linked to diabetes in susceptible people. Arsenic typically gets into the body through the mouth, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and it can also be inhaled. Small amounts can be absorbed through the skin, but the effects are very minor.
Is my Well Vulnerable to Arsenic Contamination?
Exposure through well water is a concern in regions where the bedrock contains a high level of arsenic, such as places in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and the Southwest. The Department of Natural Resources in your state can give you information on the presence of arsenic in well water.
What Treatment Options are Available for Well Owners Like Me?
NSF International, a non-profit organization, develops testing standards and certification procedures for water treatment systems. The organization has distillation and reverse osmosis systems to reduce arsenic in well water, but pretreatment may be required. For more information, visit the NSF's website.
How Does Arsenic Get Into my Well Water?
As mentioned above, arsenic can get into your water supply if it flows through arsenic-laden soil and rocks. It can also get into the water through natural and human activities. Arsenic is present in dyes, soaps, paints, and certain electrical components, and it is used in mining, smelting and farming applications. Runoff containing arsenic can enter the water supply from rain and snow melt.
Testing your well water for arsenic is an important step in protecting your family's health. By working with a water testing company and a well drilling service like Merritt Well & Pump, you can maintain and monitor the quality of the water you drink.