~ by Jesse Gagnon, Certified Water Specialist
Congratulations! You just bought your first home. You can’t wait to paint the kids’ room, hang the family photos , and tear up the vinyl flooring in the bathroom. You’re imagining your first Christmas and welcoming friends and family. The wheels are turning as you brainstorm about all the different ways you can remodel your kitchen. Like all homeowners, your TO DO list has grown a mile long. There may be one small problem, with all of the excitement, maybe you didn’t pay too much attention to the elevated levels of arsenic that were found in your well water during home inspection. The fact is, the safety and quality of your water should take the number one position on the TO DO list before you get too far along in choosing a backsplash for your kitchen counters.
Once you’ve decided to fix the arsenic in your well water, each homeowner has a very important decision to make. To treat all of the water in the home or to treat the drinking water only.
Many homeowners will choose to resolve arsenic at the whole house level. This method is also referred to as Point of Entry. Often times, parents will choose this approach in order to achieve peace of mind about the water being used by their families for baths, brushing teeth, and cleaning purposes. However, studies about dermal adsorption of arsenic have shown that very little, if any, arsenic is adsorbed through skin tissue during baths. As a result of this, the State of New Hampshire DES does not recommend whole house treatment until a level of .250 mg/l of arsenic is present. With the Environmental Protection Agency primary standard of arsenic being .010 mg/l, this means most people are not recommended to have whole house treatment.
Having said that, if whole house treatment is the only way piece of mind can be achieved, then that is what should be done. The most important thing that you can do when researching a whole house water system to remove arsenic is to make sure that you confer with a WQA (Water Quality Association) Certified Water Specialist. Understanding how your system works, and what will be needed to operate it properly is crucial to long term satisfaction with your water system.
Other homeowners will decide that they do not need a whole house treatment system. In these cases, a point of use approach is preferred. A point of use system treats water that is used for drinking water only. This tends to be the more cost effective approach to removing the arsenic from your water. Unfortunately, this is usually only done for one location in the house so those that are concerned about brushing teeth, etc. will likely not achieve peace of mind with this approach. Reverse osmosis is usually the preferred method for point of use treatment because reverse osmosis removes many impurities from the water, not just arsenic. Again , to ensure proper design and selection of a point of use drinking water system to remove arsenic , consult with a Certified water treatment specialist.
Whatever decision is made, ensure that care and attention has been paid to designing a custom system that will allow you to have peace of mind that the water being used in the home is safe, clean, and healthy.