Naturally Occurring Arsenic Contaminates Groundwater in Many U.S. Locales

Natural Arsenic Contaminates WaterArsenic, a chemical element toxic to humans, can be found in relative abundance in many underground rock formations around the world. Because of this fact of geology, arsenic in groundwater supplies that are used as sources of drinking water is a common problem.

Consumption of arsenic can cause or contribute to a variety of serious long-term health problems – cancers of the skin, lungs and bladder, cardiovascular disease and peripheral neuropathy, for example. High levels of arsenic contamination can even cause acute poisoning resulting in death. Needless to say, wherever naturally occurring arsenic leaches into a local water supply, effective decontamination is essential to protect human health.

In the United States, groundwater containing unacceptable levels of arsenic is more common in the western half of the country. Localized arsenic hotspots can occur anywhere – high levels of arsenic have been found in wells in Appalachia, and relatively high levels of arsenic occur in groundwater in the state of Maine – but the areas of greatest concern are west of the Mississippi River. Analyses of groundwater in many areas of Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, the Texas Panhandle, western Minnesota, western Nebraska and the lower Rio Grande Valley all have shown particularly high levels of arsenic.

U.S. standards for the allowable amount of arsenic in drinking water, known as the maximum containment level or MCL, changed considerably in the mid-2000s. The U.S. Public Health Service originally set a limit for arsenic of 50 parts per billion (ppb) in 1942. Almost 60 years later, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed lowering the MCL to just 10 ppb. After much debate, this new standard went into effect in January 2006. More than a third of the existing supply wells in California and Arizona at the time produced water that did not comply with the 10 ppb standard.

The EPA regulations apply only to public water supplies, but owners of private wells should also be concerned about dangerously high concentrations of arsenic in their drinking water. Fortunately, water can be treated to reduce to achieve arsenic levels of well under 10 ppb.

For reducing arsenic in drinking water, Filtronics offers Electromedia® I, a filtration system with a proprietary filter medium that can bring arsenic concentrations down below the detectable level of 2 ppb. Electromedia® I can also filter out iron, manganese, radium and other heavy metals. Designed for flows from 100 to 20,000+ gpm, our EM-I systems have the lowest annual operating costs compared to any competing system. To find out more about a water treatment solution that will serve your precise needs at the lowest possible cost, call the experts at Filtronics at (714) 630-5040.