Chloride, Total: Although chlorides are harmless at low levels, well water high in sodium chloride can damage plants if used for gardening or irrigation, and give drinking water an unpleasant taste. Over time, sodium chloride’s high corrosively will also damage plumbing, appliances, and water heaters, causing toxic metals to leach into your water. The EPA recommends levels no higher than 250 mg/L to avoid salty tastes and undesirable odors. At levels greater than this, sodium chloride can complicate existing heart problems and contribute to high blood pressure.The good news is that chlorides can easily be removed from water with either a reverse osmosis system
How to treat it: For most homes a single point of use treatment under the kitchen sink will do. This type of system is called a Reverse Osmosis (RO) and distillation filter. RO works by passing water through a semi-permeable membrane that separates the pure water into one stream and the salt water into another stream. The process is called “Reverse Osmosis” because it requires pressure to force pure water across a membrane, leaving the impurities behind
High Uranium: Uranium occurs naturally in some ground water, making wells susceptible to contamination. The US EPA has set a guideline for the safe level (Maximum Contamination Limits) MCL at 30 micrograms per liter (30ug/L)
How to treat it: For most homes a single point of use treatment under the kitchen sink will do. This type of system is called a Reverse Osmosis (RO) and distillation filter. It will filter out 90% to 99% of the Uranium making the water safe to drink
High Fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally and is released from rocks into the soil, water, and air. Almost all water contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can also be added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure for reducing cavities. Decisions about adding fluoride to drinking water are made at the state or local level.
How to treat it: If the results of the samples show levels greater than 4 mg/L, you may want to consider alternate sources of water for drinking and cooking, or installing a device to remove the fluoride from your home water source. Once again an RO filter system is recommended here.
Nitrite-Nitrogen Totals: Nitrate in drinking water can be responsible for a temporary blood disorder in infants called methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome). In infants less than six months old, a condition exists in their digestive systems which allows for the chemical reduction of nitrate to nitrite. The nitrite absorbs through the stomach and reacts with hemoglobin to form methemoglobin, which does not have the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin. Thus, the oxygen deficiency in the infant’s blood results in the “blue baby” syndrome. When the nitrate-contaminating source is removed, the effects are reversible. Since ingestion of water containing high nitrate concentrations can be fatal to infants and livestock, the U.S. EPA has established a level of 10 mg/L total nitrate (measured as nitrogen) as the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) and Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in drinking water. This is equivalent to 44.2 mg/L when measured as nitrate ion, NO3 -1 . The Agency has also established an MCLG and an MCL of 1 mg/L for nitrite (measured as nitrogen) as well as the 10 mg/L MCL for total nitrate plus nitrite (measured as nitrogen). Although extreme levels of nitrate can be associated with central nervous disorders in adults, it should be noted that nitrates and nitrites are rarely a problem in drinking water for humans older than six months of age.
How to treat it: Once again the Reverse Osmosis system is best
Nitrate-Nitrogen Totals: Nitrate is a common contaminant found in groundwater that can have serious health effects if consumed at high levels. Nitrate is colorless, odor less and tasteless. Low levels of naturally occurring nitrate can be normal, but excess amounts can pollute groundwater.
How to treat it: Commercially available line pressure and pump driven (RO) Reverse Osmosis membranes systems reduce nitrates from water by 60-95%,
Arsenic Totals: Naturally-occurring arsenic is commonly found in Maine well water. Contamination from non-natural sources of arsenic is extremely rare in Maine. Naturally-occurring arsenic exists in two forms, trivalent arsenic (also known as As (III) and “arsenite”) and pentavalent arsenic (also known as (V) and “arsenate”). As (V) is the most common form found in Maine well water and is also the most easily removed from well water. High enough amounts can cause brain damage or be fatal
How to treat it: Reverse osmosis is a membrane technology that uses pressure to force water against a semipermeable membrane. A portion of the water is forced through the membrane while leaving contaminants behind. The contaminants are then flushed down the drain with the remaining water. Reverse osmosis systems can be purchased to treat a small amount of water for drinking and cooking at a point of use (POU) or all the water at the point of entry (POE) to the house.
Lead Total: Lead contamination poses a serious threat to the safety of drinking water. This colorless, odor less, and tasteless metal can easily go undetected in water. Excessive amounts of lead place adults at higher risk for cancer, stroke, kidney disease, memory problems and high blood pressure. At even greater risk are children, whose rapidly growing bodies absorb lead more quickly and efficiently. Lead can cause premature birth, reduced birth weight, seizures, hearing loss, behavioral problems, brain damage, learning disabilities, and a lower IQ level in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that lead is the most serious environmental health hazard for children under 6 years old in the United States. Blood tests for lead are often recommended for very young children to determine if lead exposure it occurring.
How to treat it: Reverse osmosis units and activated alumina filters are very effective in removing lead. Distillation units, also normally placed on the kitchen counter, are effective in removing lead from drinking water. However, they are relatively expensive to operate and produce only a gallon or so of water per day, depending on their size. Other treatment devices such as granular activated carbon (GAC) filters can remove lead, but their efficiency is questionable. GAC filters, for instance, are only efficient at removing lead when the water pH is near 7. Small, inexpensive counter-top filter units are being marketed for lead removal, but prospective buyers should beware of salespersons who will not substantiate their claims or who use devices that involve questionable treatment methods.
Copper Totals: While an essential nutrient, too much copper can have adverse health effects. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and nausea. Long-term exposure (more than two weeks) can lead to serious health issues including liver and kidney damage. Infants and adults with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to copper toxicity.
How to treat it: Treatment can be easy. Just run your water for 30 seconds before drinking, especially if you have not used any water for six hours or more. Also, use cold water for cooking. Run your tap until the water is its coldest before use.
Iron Totals: Iron has two means of infiltrating well water: seepage and corrosion. Although it won’t harm your health, iron in your water will destroy property and food. Usually the yellowish color you see staining your cloths or teeth comes from too much iron
How to treat it: 3 common ways to combat this are (1) Aeration This method adds oxygen to the water to oxidize the iron. (2) Oxidizing Filter This causes immediate oxidation and adds a reverse (backwash) flush system.
(3) Chemical Oxidation Adds Chlorine or Hydrogen Peroxide to oxidize/destroy the iron. A water filter treatment system is then used to remove the chlorine or hydrogen peroxide from the water before use.
Hardness by calculation: Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water "hard." The hardness of water is referred to by three types of measurements: grains per gallon, milligrams per liter (mg/L), or parts per million (ppm). Water softening is the removal of calcium , magnesium, and certain other metal cations in hard water.The resulting soft water is more compatible with soap and extends the lifetime of plumbing. Water softening is usually achieved using lime softening or ion-exchange resins.
How to treat it: The most common means for removing water hardness rely on ion-exchange resin or reverse osmosis . Other approaches include precipitation methods and sequestration by the addition of chelating agents.
Manganese Total: Most water contains some iron and manganese which naturally leaches from rocks and soils. Found naturally in soils, rocks, plants, and most water supplies, these minerals are essential to human health. Excess amounts in drinking water can cause discolored water, rusty-brown stains or black specs on fixtures and laundry. Excess amounts may also affect the taste of beverages and can build up deposits in pipes, heaters or pressure tanks.
How to treat it: The water treatment for manganese is similar to that for iron although there are some important differences, mainly involving pH. Removing manganese with a filter requires a higher pH than iron. Removing manganese with a filter is often easier if iron is present.
Sodium Total: Sodium and Chloride occur naturally in ground water. However, sources such as road salt, water softeners, natural underground salt deposits, pollution from septic systems as well as salt water intrusion due to proximity to the ocean are often causes of elevated levels in drinking water supplies. This could be a health concern for people on low sodium diets. Elevated levels of sodium and chloride can also interfere with taste, the watering of certain plants and may increase the corrosivity of the water and damage household plumbing.
How to treat it: Water softeners. Sodium is added to drinking water directly during the softening process, and indirectly by the discharge of waste brine (salt dissolved in water) into sub surface disposal systems. The amount of salt added by a water softener is most influenced by the water’s hardness. High hardness increases the sodium level of the treated water. Reverse Osmosis is also a good choice to deal with this issue
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