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You’ve probably heard that arsenic is some seriously nasty stuff. And you wouldn’t be wrong! This naturally-occurring toxin lurks in water sources worldwide, often completely unbeknownst to the folks drinking it. As we speak, arsenic could be chilling in peoples’ daily glasses of water!
Now get this—prolonged arsenic exposure can spur all kinds of health disasters like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, you name it. So what gives? Why isn’t more being done to filter out this sketchy chemical? Great question.
The truth is removing arsenic from drinking water can be a tricky business. However, many treatment techniques do exist, from a simple arsenic filter to high-tech membrane systems. Most just have yet to be implemented on a broad scale, especially in developing regions. After all, clean water infrastructure is costly!
The Dangers of Arsenic in Drinking Water
Worldwide, groundwater contamination by arsenic is a serious concern. This hazardous substance can get into groundwater supplies due to mining, industry, agriculture, other human activities, and naturally occurring geologic deposits. Specific locations are especially vulnerable—for example, wells near natural arsenic-rich deposits in soil and rock or downstream from facilities that have released this metalloid into the environment.
In the end, drinking tainted groundwater for an extended period puts people at risk when inorganic forms of arsenic seep into aquifers. Over many years, drinking water contaminated with arsenic raises the risk of:
The EPA and World Health Organization recommend that drinking water has no more than ten micrograms of arsenic per liter. Nevertheless, studies indicate that long-term exposure to water containing even half that amount of arsenic may be hazardous.
Arsenic Removal Technologies
Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting our water sources. The first step in our commitment to clean water is becoming aware of the many technologies available for removing arsenic.
1. Reverse Osmosis Systems
In reverse osmosis (RO), pressure forces water through a semipermeable membrane that retains impurities. By excluding particles bigger than the tiny holes in the membrane, RO eliminates 92–98% of the arsenic from water. RO systems for countertops and under sinks can supply treated water for cooking and drinking.
2. Activated Alumina Filters
As water flows through these filters, an aluminum oxide media binds to and collects arsenic. Typically, we eliminate more than 90% of the arsenic. Activated alumina can treat arsenic in any form. Once the filter media reaches its maximum adsorptive capacity, you must change it.
3. Ion Exchange
Ion exchange resins swap harmless ions for dangerous arsenate and arsenic ions. Arsenic ions are exchanged for less toxic ions by resin beads in the filter, resulting in a balanced exchange. This method turns tainted water into clean water, providing households with safe, arsenic-free water.
Practicing Good Arsenic Hygiene at Home
Households should adopt wise water usage practices in addition to water treatment to reduce arsenic exposure. A few helpful hints are:
Only use treated water when cooking or drinking.
Test treated water once a month.
If you use reverse osmosis systems, install distinct kitchen faucets for the filtered water.
Be cautious not to touch the used media when switching to filtered media.
If arsenic is in the soil outdoors, encourage kids to wash their hands often.
The health of your household is safeguarded for years to come when you take action to treat your home water for arsenic pollution. Make careful to do regular water testing to verify the efficacy of the treatment. Working with a skilled water professional makes finding the best solution and maintenance schedule easier.
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