A recent U.S. Geological Survey "USGS" report revealed that a significant number of NH homes that use water from private wells may have water contaminated with levels of naturally-occurring metals that exceed federal standards.
Hearing this on the news may seem alarming, but with the proper water treatment, well water with high levels of metals can be made safe for drinking. According to the survey, 80,000 residents in Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Strafford counties may have unhealthy levels of one or more toxic metals in their drinking water. This includes arsenic, which has been shown to cause skin, lung, bladder, liver, and kidneys cancers, lowered IQs, as well as other diseases. Another contaminant, manganese, is harmful to formula-fed infants and can cause serious health problems. According to reports, 49,700 people in NH may have high arsenic concentrations, 7,500 people may have elevated uranium concentrations, and 14,900 people may have high manganese concentrations in their well water.
NH Department of Environmental Services sent out an alert recently recommending well owners have their water tested if they haven’t done so recently. Many contaminants cannot be detected by taste or smell, so testing is the only way to detect them. The department’s general recommendation is for homeowners to test their well water every 3-5 years through an accredited laboratory.
What can homeowners do if they find elevated levels of metals and other contaminants in their well water?
Skillings & Sons staff has a combined 250 years of well drilling and water system experience. Our expertise in home water treatment systems can be used to arm homeowners with the information they need to select the proper treatment system for their home. Here are some of the standard systems our customers select for removing metals, minerals, and other contaminants.
Reverse osmosis: In a reverse osmosis filtration system, water flows through a membrane, filtering out some of the molecules within the water, including arsenic, beryllium, nitrate, nitrite, organic compounds, sodium, and chlorine. These molecules, plus some water, are flushed into your home’s wastewater system. The treated water is stored in a small storage tank until needed. Solids in the water can sometimes clog the membrane, so a sediment prefilter should also be installed if your home’s water supply also has sand and sediment contamination.
A water softener uses an “ion exchange” system to filter out contaminant molecules from the drinking water. These systems filter the whole house’s water as it comes into the home and is commonly used to treat hard water. Water softeners are not proven to thoroughly remove arsenic, beryllium, and some other contaminants.
In this process, well water passes through an activated filter, typically a fiberglass canister. Metals and minerals like arsenic, uranium and beryllium stick to the alumina and are discarded with the used filter. Activated alumina can be utilized with both point-of-use and whole house treatment systems. Activated alumina can also be more cost effective than other treatment methods if a large amount of water needs to be treated, such as for business.
Finding the solution to toxic metals in well water
Discovering a home water supply has elevated levels of toxic chemicals is certainly cause for concern, but homeowners should not be overly alarmed. There are some reasonable prices and easy to install water treatment options that can provide a home with a safe supply of water for many years.