Water Filtration and Treatment – Arsenic Removal

Arsenic in drinking water is a big concern and many are looking for water treatment and filtration solutions to remove this harmful contaminant from their well water.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies arsenic in drinking water as a known cause of cancer. As a naturally occurring mineral, there are known hot spots throughout the Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia in particular) where drilled wells have levels that exceed the Health Advisory Limits (HAL) of 0.01 mg/L.

Removal Options

For proper removal, it is extremely important that a thorough water analysis be conducted to determine what other contaminants are present in the water. There are many factors that will determine the effectiveness of the arsenic treatment. Variables include:

Type of Arsenic:  Arsenite (As[III]) Vs.  Arsenate (As[V]). Because Arsenite has a neutral charge, standard Ion exchange methods will prove to be ineffective at removing this form of arsenic. Pre oxidation techniques may be used to convert the arsenite to arsenate which in many cases allow for a high conversion and removal rate.

Competing IONs: Most resins have a high affinity for other compounds such as Nitrates and Sulphates, which will reduce the reduction performance of arsenic. In these situations we have found it best to use both ION exchange resin in combination with  Adsorbent Media.

Additional Contaminants: For water supplies with high arsenic levels, the reduction of other present contaminants, such as Iron, Hardness and Manganese, must be considered. These contaminants will drastically affect the ability of ION exchange resin (Anion Resin) and must be removed if the levels are too high. Also, depending on the technology selected, pH must also be considered as it will impact the life expectancy and removal rates of GFO or adsorbent medias.


Once a system is installed, ensure the water quality is being monitored by frequent testing. Some technologies, if improperly maintained, can cause the post treatment water to have arsenic levels higher than the pretreatment level. For non regenerable media, testing will also indicate when the point of exhaustion has been reached. If using non regenerable solutions only, it is recommended that duplex filters be installed in a Lead-Lag configuration and testing be conducted between the two filters.  


There is much to be considered before choosing a system to treat for Arsenic in drinking water. There are many options and combinations of water filtration equipment for arsenic reduction. Choose a qualified and experienced company that is aware of the many options and can thoroughly explain their recommendation. There is no one size fits all water filtration solution when it comes to treating arsenic. Make sure a water quality guarantee is put in writing and check to see if all equipment and water treatment media is certified by NSF, WQA and UL. 

Is Bottled Water the Best Option?

The office water cooler has become a staple appliance in the office environment. You will hardly watch an office TV sitcom without seeing it in the background. The familiar blue plastic jugs neatly placed beside the cooler in a neat row with their shiny stickers facing outwards. Pictures of mountains with water running down the side of them assure you that the water inside is fresh, clean and pure. So you drink without giving it any thought, happy that you are not drinking that disgusting water from the tap.

But is this the best option? Are there better options? Let’s consider a few facts about bottled water and bottled water coolers.

1.       Bottled Water Source: In most cases, bottled water is simply filtered city water or well water. It usually isn’t being collected from a stream at the bottom of a mountain! Surprised? Don’t be. There are only so many ways to collect water and most plants are nowheres near a mountain.

2.       Filtration Used: The filtration techniques used to filter the water before its bottled are usually the very same types of filtration you can buy for your home or office: Carbon block, Reverse Osmosis (RO), Ultraviolet (UV) Sterilization. Why pay someone else to filter your water and deliver it?

3.       The Coolers: Greater than 95% of coolers used are reservoir style coolers. What does that mean? It means the water is cooled inside an open reservoir which is air vented. Whatever is in the air ends up inside the water cooler. YUK! Algae growth, dirt, dust, chemicals and other nasty contaminants will find their way inside the cooler and here is where they stay until you pour a glass.

4.       Safety: Bottled water is becoming a concern from a safety perspective in the work place. For some, lifting a large jug (40 Lbs!) is simply dangerous. Injuries to backs have been reported and employers are becoming increasingly aware of the costs of workplace injuries.

5.       Cost: The cost of your water program doesn’t stop with the cost of the water itself. Count up the additional costs that are tagged onto the bill: Bottle Deposit Fees, Semi Annual Sanitation, Cooler Rentals and so on. What an expense!

These are just a few factors to consider before signing a contract for bottled water. But what are the other options? Look at Point of Use (POU) solutions like:

·         Bottleless Water Coolers (ie: The ION by Natural Choice)

·         Under Sink Filtration

·         Portable Filtration (ie: Lifesaver water bottle)

Bottled water does have its place. There are many locations where water is not suitable for drinking and filtration is too costly. Also, lack of available plumbing or high cost of installation make filtration a non-viable option. If bottled water is your only option, ensure your cooler placement is not near or susceptible to contamination and always maintain a good sanitation program.

To find out what drinking water options are suited well for your business or home, call National Water to discuss you needs.

Boil Orders and Drinking Water

We don’t realize how convenient it is to open a tap and pour a glass of water until we have a boil order put in place. It can be a nuisance to have to boil our water or purchase bottled water but don’t forget how fortunate we are to have municipal water supplies that are closely monitored and a warning system put in place to protect us from contamination in the rare event this happens.

Here are a few reminders to keep in mind in the event your water supply is under  a boil order:

·         Don’t take risks! There is a reason why the boil order is on. Don’t assume it is ok.

·         Do not use the water for washing fruits and vegetables.

·         Use bleach with no fragrance or additional chemicals to sterilize water. 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water will provide you with safe water for washing and other uses.

·         When washing hands, it is good practice to use alcohol based hand sanitizer after washing.

·         Once the boil order is lifted, flush your lines adequately to ensure any potentially contaminated water is purged out of the system.

Bacteria Filtration

With advances in filtration and the proven disinfection technology of Ultraviolet Sterilization, homeowners and renter alike have more options than ever before for protecting their water supply from bacterial contamination. These technologies can bring peace of mind and convenience when a boil order is in place. With NSF approvals for bacteria, virus’ and cysts, we would all do well to at least explore these options to ensure safe drinking water for ourselves and our families.

Ultrafiltration (UF) – Uses hollow fiber technology to mechanically filter out dirt, sediment, bacteria, virus’ and many other contaminants. Filters as low as 0.01 microns. Some units are NSF or WQA approved.

Ultraviolet Light (UV) – Uses a high dose of UV rays to scramble the DNA of the bacteria preventing it from reproducing.  The bacteria eventually dies off on its own and poses no threat.

Microbiological Barrier (MB) Carbon Blocks – Using advanced technology, these point of use filters (typically installed under the sink) are extremely effective at bacteria removal. Boasting a 99.9999% reduction of bacteria, 99.99% viral reduction and 99.95% protozoan cyst reduction, MB block technology will be a technology of choice for those wanting a hybrid filter. Not only will it give you sediment, chlorine, taste and odor claims, but it will ultimately give you safe water.

Fracking - Methane Removal From Drinking Water

With a local economy that is tanking and lots of talk about the available natural resource of shale gas, New Brunswick is at a crossroads with two major options in front of it: To Frack, or Not to Frack.

The temptation is strong and the economic benefits are obvious, but what are the risks? One of the most obvious and debated risks is the possible contamination of groundwater, in particular, our drinking water. Lets say we do go down this road of fracking and in a rare incidence, we do contaminate wells, is this a problem with a solution? What are the contaminants that would need to be removed? Are there options on the shelf to immediately implement to fix contamination? These are all important questions that should be asked and answers should be demanded.

The good news is, YES, the water can be fixed. There are remediation solutions for the the water at the point of entry (POE) inside the home. As a company dedicated to water quality, we believe this is a matter that should be looked at proactively in anticipation of a worst case scenario. The last thing we would want to see is a mad scramble for a solution that is merely a band-aid solution, fixing it for a short period of time, but leaving homeowners with an ongoing recurring maintenance bill that they can hardly afford to pay, or a technology that is not rated for potable water use.


One major contaminant that is of concern in the fracking process in Methane Gas. Methane gas contamination of well water is not isolated to the fracking process, in some cases we have seen wells were it is naturally occurring. And it can, and has been effectively removed. Using available technologies such as air strippers and aeration, not only can we remove dissolved gases (Methane, Carbon Dioxide, etc), we can also remove multiple Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) at the same time. Hopefully the following article will help shed some light on the removal of one of the major contaminants , Methane Gas.

Article from:

Methane gas (CH4) is a complex and, unfortunately, often misunderstood water problem that most water professionals tend to avoid. How does this substance enter our water systems? Typically, this occurs through natural decomposition of plant and animal waste, or from industrial processes, such as dewatering that usually accompanies mining processes.

In its natural form, methane is colorless, odorless, tasteless and lighter than air, although well water containing methane can have a musty odor due to other substances such as hydrogen sulfide or sulfate-reducing bacteria.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate the methane content of drinking water, it is important that you stress the significance of its removal to your clients. It has the potential for harmful side effects: It may produce suffocation by replacing oxygen in confined air spaces. Although this is a rare phenomenon, it has this capability given the proper environment.

Water hammer or pressure surge is yet another drawback of methane in a water system. These may occur when methane is released into pipes. In some cases, water hammer from a methane buildup can knock a drinking glass out of a person’s hands.

Also, lighter-than-air methane readily will find its way out of a water system, and although methane is non-toxic, it is flammable and potentially explosive when mixed with air. With higher levels of methane, it is possible to turn on the faucet and get a flare-up of flame when you run a match by the faucet. In some instances, you may be able to turn on a tap and light it. In some of the more extreme cases, it will remain lit.

There are some viable tests that can be applied to help diagnose a methane application; as always, proper precautions and safety measures must be correctly in place.

• First, we need to time how long it takes the gas to come out of the water. When you run water from any tap into a glass, you’ll have bubbles adhering to the inside of the glass, but the liquid inside becomes clearer or more transparent. If it clears up quickly (say, within 45 seconds), often that is a good indication of the presence of methane, which is ready to be released with depressurization. Gas staying in the water for two minutes or more is often an indicator of carbon dioxide (CO2), which takes a little more work to pull out.

• Second, fill a plastic beverage bottle about three-quarters full of water and put the cap on it (you can let it sit to the side while you time the water clarity in the previous test). Keeping safety in mind, take the cap off the bottle and run a match by it. A flame will be produced if it is methane. This may be difficult to see because it usually is a small blue flame.

Ventilation, temperature, pressure
Aeration units are not only the most common but also the simplest form of removal.

Remember that in a 5 percent to 15 percent concentration in air, methane can become explosive and present a health hazard. Awareness is needed as you work on any water treatment systems that deal with methane. Again, methane is lighter than air and has the potential of concentrating into pockets within the building — this is why proper ventilation is necessary.

Ventilation options are limited: You can use a power fan to dilute methane in the air and send it to the outdoors according to local building specifications. Another method is point-of-entry air injection, which dilutes the methane as it comes in, significantly reducing any hazards.

When you are diluting air in the system and/or properly evacuating it, you must consider water temperature. Methane is completely dissolved in water at 42 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 C) but can be completely released (as a gas) at 58 degrees F (14.5 C).

As a rule of thumb, most well water is 54 degrees F (12.2 C). Increasing this temperature will get the best results. Water being pushed through a small apparatus at 54 degrees F by no means has time to warm up, and the methane will not release completely. Similarly, sending the water into an outbuilding where it is only 40 degrees F (4.5 C) will keep the methane in the water. So be mindful of where your treatment equipment is located.

Another factor in methane treatment is depressurization: When you depressurize water, dissolved gases will form small bubbles and release from the water. Bringing the water up to atmospheric pressure significantly helps achieve the best results.

If conditions around or in your treatment apparatus include cold temperature and high pressure, methane removal will be less efficient. Point-of-use equipment should be in a heated basement or a heated shed to help bring water temperature up and make a more efficient piece of equipment.

Oxidation, sanitation
Opening a sealed system with aeration/ventilation introduces the possibility of bacteria, so sanitizing the water must follow aeration. An easy way to sanitize is chlorination, with a storage tank. Primary sanitation immediately will kill any bacteria in the water, and secondary sanitation leaves a chlorine residual inside the tank to prevent further bacterial growth.

If there is any iron or manganese in the water, or anything that can be oxidized, you’ll follow with mechanical filtration.

Other treatment can be applied after filtration if necessary, such as water conditioning followed by treatment for drinking water.

A methane removal system involving sanitation should be checked once a year at a very minimum. Other water issues may require more frequent checks of the system anyway.

Of course, when sourcing drinking water systems, look for those in which all components are of food-grade quality and are NSF-certified.

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