(Reading Time: 5 minutes) A recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dug up some disturbing news: those who use private wells for drinking water may be gradually poisoning themselves with heavy metals – in particular, arsenic. The study determined that at least 2.1 million people are drinking water from arsenic poisoned wells, and while municipal water treatment facilities filter it out of drinking water, those who are reliant on well water need to check arsenic levels for themselves—something few know to do or how to do.
Statistics are grim. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the greatest threat to public health safety comes from groundwater, specifically private well water that has become contaminated with inorganic arsenic. As water flows through the rocks and minerals, contamination of this specific type of arsenic increases (not to be confused with the harmless organic arsenic found in seafood). Most would have no idea they were being poisoned since arsenic is odorless and tasteless, leading to long term exposure which is linked to cancer, kidney damage, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with rural and suburban populations using private wells the most at risk.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the current drinking water standard is 0.010 mg/L or parts per million (ppm). As recently as 2001, the EPA reduced the MCL from 50 ppb to 10 ppb on the basis of bladder and lung cancer risks, but the science behind the correlation is still unclear. Data from a recent Strong Heart Family Study involved urine samples among American Indians who traditionally rely on well water living in Oklahoma, Arizona, North and South Dakota. The size, shape and functionality of their hearts were also assessed via ultrasound. At the start, none of the subjects showed signs of diabetes or heart disease. But when it was found that arsenic levels had doubled, the chance of developing left ventricular hypertrophy—a thickening of the walls of the heart— rose to 47 percent.
As a result of this and similar studies around the world, the removal of arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals from water supplies has become a top priority for many municipalities, small community water systems, schools, and individual consumers. In response, Graver Technologies has been developing and manufacturing superior water treatment solutions such as our MetSorb® adsorbent products. Idea for small communities, trailer parks, schools, commercial and industrial business parks, they’re specifically engineered to provide excellent arsenic, lead and other heavy metal contaminant removal for the purification of not just household drinking water, but also process water and aqueous streams.
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Approximately 13 million U.S. households use private wells for drinking water – all unregulated by the EPA. As stated, private well owners are responsible for their own arsenic levels and the agency at least offers a few tips on how to test for it as well as things to look for that might prompt testing including increased flooding, new construction in the area, and change in water quality. The EPA also has a helpful infographic that shows you how to protect your private well from contamination in the first place. So, not all is doom and gloom for rural, private well owners, and unless your arsenic level is over 500 ppb, activities such as showering and bathing are safe as the element is not absorbed through the skin nor does it evaporate into the air.
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