Private wells are the source of drinking water for approximately 15% of households in the United States, but these wells are not regulated or monitored by government agencies. The well waters can contain arsenic, a known carcinogen that occurs in groundwater throughout the nation at concentrations that can exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (10 ppb). In order to reduce arsenic exposure, homeowners can either rely on bottled water for drinking or install in-house water treatment systems for arsenic removal. Here, we document the arsenic levels associated with these options. We examined 24 different major bottled water brands and found that all have arsenic levels less than 1.5 parts per billion (ppb), and more than half have levels below our measurement detection limit of 0.005 ppb. For in-house treatment systems, we examined the performance of arsenic removal by point-of-use reverse osmosis filtration, and by whole-house and point-of-use filters containing granulated ferric oxide. Our results show that long-term (2 years) filtration with granulated ferric oxide reduced arsenic in well water from an initial concentration of 4 to 9 ppb down to less than 0.005 ppb, validating this technology as an effective form of arsenic remediation for private homes.
The effectiveness of arsenic remediation from groundwater in a private home