Drought may concentrate contaminants in wells

ATLANTA (PRNewswire) -- As water well levels continue to drop this summer, levels of contamination in groundwater can become more concentrated, leading to potential health risks for more than one-third of Americans who depend on private wells for drinking water.

Aug 9th, 2000

ATLANTA (PRNewswire) -- As water well levels continue to drop this summer, levels of contamination in groundwater can become more concentrated, leading to potential health risks for more than one-third of Americans who depend on private wells for drinking water.

Because drought has heavily affected parts of the United States that have high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in their groundwater, users of well water in Arizona, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Utah should take extra precautions to make sure their water is safe, agencies warn. For these wells, lead, iron, bacteria and salinity levels may also rise.

Public utilities which own wells and private well owners should check the levels of certain contaminants when the water levels are low, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although the EPA does not regulate private wells, owners can assure water is safe from drought-related concentration of contaminants using the testing guidelines found on its web site, .

Rom Papadopoulos, Chairman of Apyron Technologies, said well owners and operators should make sure their wells are tested as recommended by the EPA or their state agency, even if the water appears clear and odorless.

"During periods of high demand or drought, the amount of naturally occurring arsenic and other heavy metals can become more concentrated when water levels decrease," Papadopoulos said.

"The only time you'll think about testing your water is when the odor changes or the color changes, but this is an odorless and colorless contaminant," said Sherry Odom, Director of Marketing, Communications and Government Relations for Apyron.

There are areas of the US that currently are above the arsenic standard, and well operators may not be aware of the effect prolonged drought can have on contaminants, Odom said.

To combat many of these drought-related contaminants, Apyron makes adsorbent media for water filtration systems that remove contaminants such as lead, arsenic, iron, fluoride and other heavy metals. The company also makes anti-microbial technologies that aid in the disinfection and destruction of microorganisms.

The EPA standard for arsenic now is 50 ppb, but that level expected to go much lower soon. On June 22, the agency proposed a new standard of 5 ppb, a limit which it believes is the lowest practical and economical limit which should be imposed upon water suppliers.

"With the EPA currently recommending a 90 percent reduction in arsenic levels due to associated health risks, people should really be aware of the current levels in their drinking water," Papadopoulos said.

The technology from Apyron is a heavy metal adsorbent which goes into a filter made by Watermate(tm). The media can be used in small filtration devices including carafe or faucet-mounting systems. The system does not use extra water. This filtration media is used in India on small community wells, where the water starts at 1,000-2,000 ppb of arsenic and is filtered down to the World Health Organization's standard of 10 ppb.

For more information on the filtration media:

For more information on drought in general:

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