If you are living in an area where underground water has unsafe levels of arsenic then it is important to install water treatment systems at your home or find any other source of water for drinking and consumption. As, throughout history, arsenic has been famed with fatal toxicity from being used as poison in ancient times and as a harmful chemical in pesticide today it has a very harmful and deadly connotation.
So today in this article I am going to tell you some efficient methods for removing arsenic from your drinking water. I will tell you in detail about every method including their pros and cons so you can easily make your final choice about the water treatment system at your home for removing arsenic from drinking water.
Removal of Arsenic From Drinking Water at Home – Quick Solution
The one bucket system offers a quick, simple and affordable way to purify water from arsenic, dangerous microorganisms and dirt from drinking water at home within 30 minutes.
The material that is required for one bucket system for arsenic removal includes:
- Bucket with a tap
- A stirring stick (the diameter of stick should be less than one centimeter in diameter)
- A sachet of AuroAquasafe
- A scissor
- A arsenic level testing kit
Before treatment, take a sample of water from the bucket so you can compare the arsenic level after. Add the sachet of AuroAquasafe into the water. Quickly start stirring the water for 1 minute using the stick with less than one centimeter in diameter, if you use a larger one the rate for removal of arsenic will reduce. After stirring quickly for 1 minute, let the water sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take a sample of water after treatment. Now analyze both the samples using a reliable arsenic level testing kit.
According to our observations, when we perform this method for removing arsenic from drinking water. The arsenic level in the untreated water was between 0.4 to 0.5 milligrams per liter but after the treatment the arsenic level reduces to .01 milligrams per liter. So this level of arsenic is completely safe in drinking water according to World Health organization guidelines.
So clearly, this process reduces the arsenic between 0.4 and 0.5 to 0.01 milligrams per liter which makes water safe for drinking and consumption.
Removal of Arsenic From Drinking Water – Advanced Solutions
As most of the common methods such as disinfection, heating or boiling water, particle filters and bleach for removing arsenic from drinking water at home are not as effective to give you quality water. Even water softening systems may not be able to remove arsenic from water.
There are several methods available for lowering the level of arsenic from water. Here I am going to mention some advanced, important and effective methods below for removing the arsenic from drinking water.
1. Reverse Osmosis
The most common, effective and widely used technology nowadays for removing arsenic from drinking water is the installation of Reverse osmosis installation systems at your home.
How does reverse osmosis work?
Reverse osmosis is a type of filtration that treats water by pushing pressured water through a semipermeable membrane and leaves the harmful metal such as arsenic, lead, chlorine, sodium, salts and other containment behind.
How much water can be treated by RO systems?
Reverse osmosis systems are mostly point of use systems attached to dedicated faucets and allow you to use filtered water for every activity like drinking, cooking, making coffee, ice cubes and many more. Such systems produce 2 to 3 ounces of filtered water per minute but also use a storage tank for your convenience and easy availability to water.
Reverse osmosis systems can also be point of entry systems and allows you to use filtered water for every single water activity at your home like bathing, gardening, washing and many more. These systems are more costly but really worth the price tag for removing arsenic if your water supply has a high level of arsenic in it.
How to buy / install / maintain the RO systems and how much does it cost?
Reverse osmosis systems have a wide variety of choices commercially or also at local hardware stores from where you can buy them. Typically, most Reverse osmosis systems are point of use systems and most people or plumbers are familiar with this one. Ro systems can cost you 400 to 500$ but as the quality, durability and efficiency increase they tend to cost more. Now, RO systems consist of two or more membranes; pre and post treatment filters (micro filter and activated carbon filters).
The annual cost of these systems can be upto 50$ but depending upon the number or type of membrane this estimate can vary.
Well owners consider calling out professionals and hiring plumbers for installing RO systems and test if against the removal of arsenic. The professional installation can cost you upto 500$. It is also suggested that you test water independently after installation to verify the manufacturer’s claim and successful installation.
Homeowners who are familiar with plumbing choose to purchase and install RO systems themselves. But make sure you always read reviews of the buyers before you make the purchase of any Reverse osmosis system through any official website and online retailers.
Pros and Cons
Here are some pros and cons of the reverse osmosis systems used for removing the arsenic from drinking water.
- Reverse osmosis systems are readily available to people for purchase.
- These systems do not require the addition of chemicals, but require periodic maintenance because membranes can wear out.
- RO systems can effectively remove the As5 from water.
- Not each RO unit removes the same rate of but efficiency can matter with brands.
- RO systems are not ideal for untreated well water but you can place appropriate pre-filters in your system.
2. Iron Filter Adsorption
Iron filter adsorption is the appropriate option for those who are comfortable tinkering with their systems and want new technologies.
How does the Iron filter adsorption method work?
The metal based filters such as iron filters are not only used to lower the arsenic level from drinking water but at home treatment systems too. Typically, Iron filters are of cylindrical shape which is tightly packed with grains or beads. So when the water flows through an iron filter, it allows arsenic to absorb or stick to it using specific material. Mostly such filters use a form of iron; ferric hydroxides or oxides in the form of grains or beads.
The iron filter is placed inline with the water line at the point of usage and usually consists of either a replaceable unit or fixed filter holder with replaceable iron filter cartridges. Iron filters not only absorb arsenic but also selenium and fluoride from water.
How much water can be treated by Iron filter?
Iron filters can produce a few hundred gallons of arsenic free water before the replacement is required. The amount of water produced within the life of an iron filter also depends upon the filter’s size, arsenic level in water, and other water quality parameters. After the lifespan of these filters end, they cannot be reused.
Note: Never throw used iron filters into the trash instead send them to your local hazardous waste recycling center for their proper disposal.
How to buy / install / maintain the Iron Filters and how much does it cost?
The installation and operation of these iron filters are usually simple. Depending upon the size of iron filters, they cost you from 100$ to several hundred dollars. To determine filter’s arsenic removal efficiency and capacity, it is suggested that you do initial and regular testing.
- Iron filters are more effective, energy efficient and require no electricity for removing arsenic from water.
- Unlike reverse osmosis systems, they keep the beneficial nutrients like Ca and Mg in water.
- An iron filter can produce a few hundred gallons of purified water before their life ends.
- If the pH of your home supply water is above 7 then it will reduce the arsenic removal capacity of iron filters.
- Sometimes, organic matter and constituents like bicarbonate, manganese, chloride can react with material of these filters.
The other well known method for the removal of arsenic from drinking water is the distillation. Unlike the RO systems, distillers cannot either be point of use or point of entry in fact they are countertops.
How does distillation work?
In distillation, distillers use a physical process of heating to remove the heavy metals such as arsenic and other contaminants. Contaminated water gets boiled in distillers and the steam gets collected in a separate container. The purified steam then gets cooled which makes steam condense back into water. The constituents such as salts and heavy metals like arsenic are left behind and do not evaporate. The boiling process in distillers also kills the harmful microorganisms and bacterias.
How much water can be treated with Distillation systems?
Distillers are typically used for drinking and cooking in homes because hooking a distiller on a faucet or to your home water’s supply is not possible. So, distillation systems are basically used for the production of small quantities of filtered water about 1 to 4 gallons of water per day.
They also waste several gallons of water per gallon for water filtration and as a result total water utilization for cooking and drinking increase about 3-8 times. Membranes also need to get flushed out regularly because salts get collected into the membrane. Some distillers also have carbon filters to reduce the volatile organic compounds from water.
How to buy /install / maintain the Distillation systems and how much does it cost?
As distillation systems used as self-contained devices so their start up cost at around 200$ for countertop models. Before buying any distillation system, you should check out the energy consumption and gallons of water produced per hour or day. As distillation units produce heat and release some glasses so they should get installed in a well-ventilated area.
As distilled water is corrosive, don’t store it in any metal or simple container for a long period of time. You can also read manufacturer recommendations on manual books to clean and maintain the distillation unit.
Water distillation is useful for the homes where daily drinking water requirement is limited and less than 5 gallons per day. Distillers produce demineralized, arsenic-free water and cost you significant depending upon the unit size and volume of water produced.
Pros and Cons
Here are some main pros and cons of the distillation systems used for removing the arsenic from drinking water for quick analysis.
- Distillation systems not only remove inorganic arsenic from water but also kill water microorganisms and bacteria that are likely to make you ill.
- Distillers not only remove arsenic from water but also toxic contaminants like gasoline, degreases, etc and make water pure.
- These systems are not very costly.
- Distillers can not get hooked to water’s supply source directly and produce less quantity of water at a time than RO systems.
- As salts get collected in the membranes so they require regular flushed out which make water wastage.
- Since these systems require heat and they release some gasses that are unfriendly to the environment.
What Levels of Arsenic Are Considered as Safe in Drinking Water?
The US EPA has set the standard level of arsenic in water which is considered as safe for health upto 10ppb (parts per billion). For a rough estimate 10 ppb is equal to 5 teaspoons of ink in a swimming pool of olympic-size. Filtering arsenic at lower concentration is not necessary. However, public water supplies and utilities are strictly rules to lower the arsenic level in drinking water less than 10 ppb. But private well owners are exempted from such rules which means its owner’s responsibility to test the water quality and purify it from arsenic and other harmful contaminants to make it safe for drinking.
How Can You Test the Water for Arsenic and How Often Should You Do It?
Arsenic can be in your water but you may not know because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless. So it is recommended to test your water quality by using arsenic test kits. They are so effective and quick that they show you the maximum result in 12 minutes.
Arsenic test kits include 2-3 chemicals or reagents that you have to add in your water and after that dip the testing strips in your water. Some color will appear on the strip and compare it with chart for measuring the level of arsenic in your water as given with testing kits.
For arsenic it is best to test your water after every 3 months but you can test your water once a year for harmful microorganisms, bacterias and nitrates.
What Are the Effects of Arsenic on Health?
Arsenic in drinking water can affect the human body badly but if you take it over a long period of time arsenic will put your body at higher risk and even cause high risk of cancer.
The short term effects of arsenic in drinking water on the human body includes thickening and discoloration of skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, sore throat, cramping and numbness in hands and feet.
As drinking clean and pure water which is free of harmful containment and arsenic is everyone’s right. I have covered 3 common and efficient methods for removing arsenic from drinking water in this article. Hope you find any one of the above mentioned water treatment systems understandable and best for your home.