Are you concerned about arsenic in your water? Apyron Technologies has compiled a list of frequently asked questions on this page. If you have additional questions, please call 1-888-734-6292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How does arsenic get into the water supply?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal found in rocks and soil. It can be released into the environment through geological events, such as volcanic activity and erosion. Some industrial processes, such as mining, smelting and the production of paints, metals, soaps, dyes, drugs, semi-conductors and wood preservatives may also release arsenic into the environment.
In the United States, most cases of arsenic contaminated water are a result of geochemical soil leaching - a process in which naturally occurring arsenic in the rock and soil is activated by contact with ground or surface water.
Arsenic occurs in two common forms - arsenite (Arsenic III) and arsenate (Arsenic V). It is easier to remove Arsenic V, the most common form, from drinking water. Arsenic III is more difficult to remove and is more hazardous to human health.
Where is arsenic contaminated water found?
In the United States, high concentrations of arsenic are most often found at the foothill of mountain ranges. Western states and parts of the Midwest and New England show increasing arsenic levels well above the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb).
Although these areas have the highest concentrations of arsenic overall, communities throughout the United States have high levels of arsenic in their drinking water. More than 12.7 million people who obtain their drinking water from public supplies in the United States routinely drink water with more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic, according to EPA figures. This does not take into account the approximately 40 million Americans who obtain their water from private wells, which are not regulated or treated by the government and often have high levels of naturally-occurring arsenic.
Other nations have a significant problem with arsenic-contaminated water, as well. Argentina, Bangladesh, India and Japan are just a few of the countries that have high levels of arsenic in their water supplies. Bangladesh, for example, estimates between 35 to 77 million of its 125 million citizens are at risk of drinking arsenic-contaminated water.
How do I know if my drinking water has a high level of arsenic?
If you obtain your drinking water from a public municipal source, as 70% of U.S. residents do, you can contact your local government office to obtain a water report. This report will provide you with the level of arsenic in your water. If it is below 10 parts per billion, it falls within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standard for the contaminant. However, the EPA has also recognized that the desired maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic is 0 parts per billion.
If you obtain your drinking water from a private well, which is not tested or regulated by your local government, you can do one of three things to determine the level of arsenic in your water:
How does arsenic contaminated drinking water affect human health?
In 1942, when a standard for arsenic was first established, the key health effects of ingesting arsenic were believed to be limited to skin cancer and black foot disease. Since that time, extensive research has been conducted around the world that links arsenic to a wide range of health effects including both cancer and non-cancer causing illnesses. The majority of the research on the topic has been performed outside of the U.S., which has been a key factor in the controversy over what level of arsenic is safe for drinking water.
In the late 1990's the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directed the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to analyze the research conducted on the health effects of arsenic and make an appropriate recommendation for the U.S. In their analysis, the NAS used research published through the fall of 1999.
In March of 2001, the EPA turned to the NAS again, asking the organization to review more than 300 recent studies on the health effects of arsenic. This was one of three studies commissioned by the EPA under the Bush administration. On September 11, 2001, the NAS released the results of their report, which concluded that the cancer risk associated with arsenic exposure is higher than previously thought. The report states that people who drink water with arsenic levels of 3 parts per billion (ppb) have a one in 1,000 risk of developing cancer. At 10 ppb, the risk is three in 1,000.
For the past two decades, the EPA's maximum acceptable level of risk for all drinking water contaminants has been one in 10,000. The results of this report were a key factor in the EPA's decision to reduce the allowable level of arsenic in drinking water to 10 ppb on November 1, 2001.
The NAS also noted that other health effects - including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes - should be considered.
High concentrations of arsenic ingested into the body can produce lethal effects. Initial effects of arsenicosis, the disease caused from excessive exposure to arsenic, include stomach pain, vomiting, skin lesions, pigmentation, difficulty in swallowing, excessive thirst, low blood pressure, convulsions and gastrointestinal problems. Long-term effects include cancer of the bladder, skin, kidney, liver, prostate, lung and nasal passages.
It is currently estimated that 1 in 100 people exposed to arsenic levels above 50 ppb will contract a potentially fatal form of cancer. In areas where the arsenic levels are even higher, like India and Bangladesh, 1 in 10 people exposed to arsenic levels above 500 ppb will suffer the same fate.
Non-cancer health effects include gangrene, limb loss, keratosis, neurological effects, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, immunological and endocrine disorders, hematological disorders and reproductive/developmental problems. The EPA's Office of Research and Development may have also discovered a link to DNA damage caused by arsenic compounds. The research shows arsenic inducing a reaction between itself and DNA, causing certain genetic alterations in the DNA that result in breakage.
In addition, arsenic is an accumulative enabler, meaning that people who are pre-disposed to various cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments, are more likely to fall ill. Studies have also shown that arsenic may pass through the placenta, causing birth defects, and that exposure to it may negatively affect children's intelligence levels and ability to learn.
Additional research is continuing on the health effects of arsenic exposure. Currently, research by the EPA focuses on the cancer effects from low exposure to arsenic, arsenic toxicity in human tissues and the effects of dose and length of exposure to arsenic. Research by the University of California-Berkeley is studying the effects of dose and cancer risks, nutritional and genetic susceptibility to arsenic effects, DNA analysis of tumors in arsenic-exposed populations and assessment of non-cancer effects from exposure to arsenic.
The following links are references to current research projects on the health effects of arsenic:
What is the regulatory history of the arsenic standard in the United States?
The federal legislative history for revising the drinking water standard on arsenic has been a roller coaster ride. See the chart below for a timeline.
Have any states set their own standards?
As a result of the continued delays by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on this issue, several states initiated their own legislation to implement a more stringent standard prior to the EPA's final ruling on November 1. State government agencies in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont have drafted new laws that will bring the MCL from 50 to 10 parts per billion (ppb). These proposals are currently under review by the states' respective legislative committees. The state government of Delaware has passed a new standard. On October 1, Governor Minner announced the new MCL of 10 ppb. Water systems state-wide have until 2006 to meet compliance.
How will the revised standard impact American citizens?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one in 20 water systems (about 4,100 nationwide), providing water to more than 12.7 million people, will have to treat their water to meet the new standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb). To help ease the financial burden, the EPA plans to provide $20 million for researching the most cost-effective technologies to meet the new standard.
Since 1996, the EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) has made $3.6 billion available to assist water systems in financial need with projects to improve their infrastructure. The EPA has funded over 1,000 loans for water systems in the United States. There are also federal funds available through such groups as the Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2000, the DWSRF and Rural Utilities Service together provided $1.7 billion to states and public water systems for improvements and infrastructure needs.
Some of the cost will fall on the shoulders of the American people, who in paying their taxes, in turn fund water treatment projects designed to reduce arsenic in drinking water. The most cost-effective means to comply with the arsenic standard may be Point-of-Use (POU) technology. When the EPA reduced the standard, it announced that more than 97% of the 4,100 water systems affected nationwide are small systems serving less than 10,000 people each. Recently, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) completed an EPA-commissioned cost analysis that stated that POU applications - filtration devices attached under or on top of a household's sink to treat the water that comes from the faucet - should be given greater consideration as a method of tackling arsenic contamination. The council's cost evaluations show that communities as large as 10,000 can benefit financially from this approach.
What are the treatment options for removing arsenic?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated that the original compliance date 2006 will be maintained, giving public water systems 5 years to meet the final standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Publicly owned utilities will be kept from implementing a more rapid solution due to government approval cycles, annual budgets, required bidding processes, and slow implementation schedules.
Many Americans, parents in particular, are not willing to wait until the 2006 deadline imposed by the EPA. As a result, in-home treatment systems, which can be immediately installed, are a very popular option for individual homeowners. Other advantages such as low implementation/operating costs and improved flexibility make the in home option appealing.
There are two basic methods for in-home treatment - Point-of-Use (POU) and Point-of-Entry (POE). A POU system is a filtration device that is attached under or on top of a household's sink to treat the water that comes from that particular faucet. A POE system treats the water at the point where it enters the home, thereby treating all water sources in the home.
Because small water systems will be the most heavily impacted by a new standard for arsenic in water, POU treatment options will likely play a large role in compliance. The effectiveness, affordability and short turn-around time for installing a POU system are a few key advantages of this approach.
The EPA's most recent task force on implementation cost now estimates that for small water systems serving less than 10,000 homes each, the POU option may be the most affordable approach.
For communities larger than this, centrally treated water (at the site of the public water system) remains the most economical approach.
Why should I consider a Point-of-Use approach?
A Point-of-Use (POU) treatment device is attached either under or on top of a household's sink to treat the water that comes from the faucet. There are several advantages to a POU approach for in-home treatment of arsenic, including:
What are the treatment options for Point-of-Use?
It is very important to understand your water's characteristics prior to making a purchasing decision to treat arsenic. There are several options for POU treatment on the market, including reverse osmosis and adsorptive media. A reverse osmosis (RO) system will remove Arsenic V and many other dissolved contaminants from drinking water, but it will not remove Arsenic III, the more harmful form of arsenic.
If arsenic is your primary concern, an adsorptive treatment system, like Apyron's, provides a more focused approach. Apyron's treatment solutions are significantly less expensive than a typical RO system, and they remove both Arsenic V and Arsenic III from drinking water. Apyron's solutions can be used independently, or in conjunction with an RO system to remove the untreated Arsenic III.
How do Apyron's arsenic treatment solutions work? What are my options?
Apyron developed its award-winning Aqua-Bind media, a high performance granular adsorption material, specifically for commercial and residential applications to remove arsenic from drinking water. Apyron's products can be used within a variety of conventional water filters, tanks and whole house treatment units as a stand-alone filter, or as an add-on to current treatment equipment, like reverse osmosis. Apyron's treatment solutions are capable of Arsenic (III) and (V) removal and are easy-to-use, cost-effective and safe to handle and dispose.
Apyron offers four distinct product categories that address arsenic contamination:
ARSENIC TEST KIT
Apyron's Arsenic Test Kit enables you to easily, quickly and safely test your drinking water for the presence of total arsenic. With increased sensitivity, indicating arsenic levels from 5 to 800 ppb, the arsenic test kit is an ideal tool to identify the need for treatment.
COUNTER TOP SYSTEM
Apyron's award-winning arsenic treatment media, Aqua-Bind, is incorporated into a compact counter top system that attaches directly to the faucet in any kitchen or bathroom.
POINT-OF-ENTRY (POE) SOLUTIONS
A POE approach, using Apyron's bulk media, is ideal if you would like to treat every water source in your home. The flexibility of bulk media also allows easy integration into existing treatment systems.
Apyron's arsenic treatment cartridges are available in three sizes for installation into existing and new water filtration systems at a specific water source in the home. The cartridges can be slipped into a housing unit below the sink to treat drinking water and are also ideal for treating low water usage applications such as ice-makers, refrigerators and other mobile water dispensers.
How can I purchase Apyron's arsenic treatment solutions?
If you are interested in purchasing one of Apyron's arsenic treatment solutions, please contact us at 1-888-734-6292. One of our representatives will be happy to help you identify the most appropriate solution and to put you in touch with an Apyron-certified dealer or distributor.
I am a water treatment professional. How can I become a part of Apyron's dealer/distributor network?
If you are a water treatment professional interested in receiving more information on how to become an Apyron-certified dealer or distributor, please contact Apyron at 678-904-6600