Parameter Type: Drinking Water Testing for Metals
Parameter Name: Arsenic
What it is and Where it Comes From:
Arsenic is a metallic element that forms several poisonous compounds. It is found in nature at low levels mostly in compounds with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur, these are called inorganic arsenic compounds. Arsenic is commonly found in well water supplies. Arsenic in plants and animals combined with carbon and hydrogen, is called organic arsenic. Organic arsenic is usually less harmful than inorganic arsenic. Most arsenic compounds have no smell or special taste. Inorganic arsenic compounds are mainly used to preserve wood. They are also used to make insecticides and weed killers. Copper and lead ores contain small amounts of arsenic. When arsenic enters the environment, it does not evaporate. It gets into air when contaminated materials are burned. It settles from the air to the ground where it does not break down but can change from one form to another. Most arsenic compounds can dissolve in water. Fish and shellfish build up organic arsenic in their tissues, but most of the arsenic in fish is not toxic. Exposure to arsenic can come from, breathing workplace air with sawdust, or burning smoke from wood containing arsenic. You can ingest contaminated water, soil, or air at waste sites and areas with naturally high arsenic. Drinking water testing gives you several benefits like peace of mind, identifying contaminants in your water, and insight into health concerns. Safe Home offers Laboratory drinking water testing kits for arsenic, allowing you to collect your water sample and ship it directly to our EPA-Certified Laboratory. This platform of drinking water testing for arsenic will give you an accurate level based on the lowest level of a parameter our instruments can detect (Method Detection Level). Safe Home drinking water testing for heavy metals can be used for city and well water supplies. Drinking water testing should be done any time you notice a significant change in your water quality.
Inorganic arsenic is a human poison. Organic arsenic is less harmful. High levels of inorganic arsenic in food or water can be fatal. Arsenic can damage body tissues and organs including nerves, stomach, intestines, and skin. Breathing high levels can give you a sore throat and irritated lungs. Low levels of exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, blood vessel damage, and a “pins and needles” sensation in hands and feet. Long term exposure to inorganic arsenic can lead to a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small “corns” or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso. Direct skin contact can cause redness and swelling. Arsenic is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Considering the MCLG is zero arsenic levels should be monitored with drinking water testing.
Solutions to Contaminant Levels:
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soils and groundwater. Arsenic concentrations vary in accordance with geographic location. When arsenic levels are found to be too high at a specific location, it is necessary to treat your drinking water to remove it. The most cost-effective method for removing arsenic from a private water supply is reverse osmosis, commonly called RO. Reverse osmosis is filtration at a molecular level. It works by forcing water through a special, selective membrane. The membrane has microscopic pores that are specially sized to allow water molecules through, while trapping larger inorganic molecules like lead, iron, chromium, and arsenic. Studies have shown that RO can be up to 95% effective for removal of arsenic. Most reverse osmosis systems are installed in homes at what is called point-of-use (POU) areas. Typically, they are designed to produce only a small amount of water daily, 2 to 3 gallons per days, and are usually located near the kitchen sink. The system consists of a prefilter that removes sand and grit, the membrane where RO occurs, and an activated carbon polishing filter to aid in taste and odor control. Treated water is stored in a small tank and is accessed through a faucet located next to the regular kitchen faucet. Who do I need to contact to find out more information about water quality in my area? Every community water supplier must provide an annual report to its customers, known as a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water’s source, contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water. How often does the local public water system preform drinking water testing? Frequency of drinking water testing depends on the number of people served, the type of water source, and types of contaminants. Certain contaminants are tested more frequently than others, as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act. You can find out about levels of regulated contaminants in your treated water for the previous calendar year in your annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR).
File Under: Metals
Drinking Water Testing - Parameter Types
MCL’s (Maximum Contaminant Levels) MCL’s are levels that set by the USEPA and are enforceable to Public Water Utilities, requiring additional treatment, when the levels are exceeded. These same guidelines should be at least considered, by owners of private wells. Some states have more strict guidelines than the USEPA. Not all parameters have MCL’s. If the parameter has an MCL, it’s listed.
MCLG’s (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals) MCLG’s are goals set by the USEPA that we should all strive for when consuming drinking water from any water supply. Concentrations of certain parameters (even below the MCL’s), are still not healthy for humans and animals to drink. These same guidelines should at least be be considered, by owners of private wells. Some states have more strict guidelines than the USEPA. Not all parameters have MCLG’s. If the parameter has an MCLG, it’s listed.
ACTION LEVELS ACTION LEVELS are a specified concentration of a respective parameter in drinking water, that is above a “treatment level” set by the USEPA. When these levels are exceeded, further treatment and monitoring is required by the respective utility who’s water violated this limit.Action Levels apply to parameter-rules such as but not limited to the Copper/Lead Rule.
PARTS PER MILLION (ppm) PPM is a scientific measurement which represents milligrams of the parameter being tested per liter of the respective liquid. Example: If Copper in your water supply is at a concentration of 1.00 mg/L, this is the same as saying the concentration is 1.00 ppm.