In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed the standards for arsenic levels in drinking water. At that time, the agency had estimated that more than 36 million Americans were drinking water that contained arsenic levels at or above 3 parts per billion. A new standard was set, lowering the maximum contaminant level to 10 parts per billion (ppb) from the previous standard of 50 ppb.
The EPA Standard
The EPA and the World Health Organization were concerned about long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water supplies. Although environmental advocacy groups called for the standard to be lowered to 3 ppb in the U.S., the EPA decided on the higher 10 ppb, citing reasons that the high costs associated with implementing the much lower standard would not justify the benefits. Still, local water jurisdictions charged with safeguarding citizen water supplies were concerned with the increased cost for the more stringent arsenic treatment protocols.
Since the EPA ruling, arsenic levels in drinking water systems have significantly decreased, but watchdog groups remain vigilant, and local water utilities continue to monitor levels. Arsenic is an odorless and tasteless natural element found in rocks, soil, water, air, plants, and even animals, where it is found in low levels. Long-term exposure to arsenic is a concern because it causes changes to the way cells communicate with each other, which reduces their ability to function, and could cause health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and vascular and lung disease.
Recent studies have found that exposure to arsenic may also prevent the regeneration of muscles following an injury, according to a study presented to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. And, another study presented showed decreased head circumference for babies born to mothers with even low-level exposure to arsenic. It’s clear that removing arsenic from water supplies should remain a priority.
Solution: Biological Filtration Systems
Through the use of naturally occurring bacteria instead of chemical-laden processes to remove arsenic and other harmful contaminants, biological filtration systems are a sought-after and cost-effective method for arsenic treatment in drinking water. These biological treatments actually seek out harmful chemicals, then reduce them to a non-harmful state, and are a long-term solution for arsenic water treatment systems.
Not only are biological filtration systems effective, they are also less expensive than other processes used to filter drinking water and remove arsenic and other harmful chemicals. Biological filtration systems are environmentally safe, conserve energy, and produce no toxic waste. This is good news for public utilities, who are being pressed with tougher environmental and health standards, yet smaller budgets to deal with and implement those standards.
Although biological filtration systems have existed for centuries in a variety of forms, the technology available today required a great deal of research and testing to reach its current success rate in removing harmful chemicals in a variety of industrial settings, and doing so in a cost-effective way.
When seeking solutions for arsenic treatment and the removal of VOCs and other harmful chemicals, it pays to work with a company experienced in arsenic biological filtration. To find out more about these environmentally-friendly drinking water treatment systems, contact AdEdge Water Technologies to speak with one of our technicians and learn about our many successful biological filtration projects.