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Water Safety

Arsenic: A Silent Water Warrior

image of water
image of water

Arsenic: A Silent Water Warrior


If iron and its cohorts are personified as a gang, consider arsenic a ninja.

Tasteless. Odorless. Damaging.

Arsenic may sound like the poison of choice for a sinister James Bond-type villain, but it should also be of concern for private well water owners. In fact, the James Bond analogy is not that far off given the consequences of excessive arsenic contamination. The Natural Resources Defenses Council (NRDC) lists multiple forms of cancer and skin damage among the very worst effects of prolonged exposure to incredibly high levels of arsenic.

As a contaminant, it can occur naturally in soil and plants, or be found in industrial applications.

According to the EPA, “[a]pproximately 90 percent of industrial arsenic in the U.S. is currently used as a wood preservative, but arsenic is also used in paints, dyes, metals, drugs, soaps and semi-conductors. High arsenic levels can also come from certain fertilizers and animal feeding operations. Industry practices such as copper smelting, mining and coal burning also contribute to arsenic in our environment…”

On top of its multiple sources, arsenic is found in many forms. The two most common of those variations are arsenic +3 and arsenic +5. Arsenic +3 is actually the more toxic of the pair, but a process called chemical speciation is needed to determine the difference between the two.

Arsenic continues to be a master of deception, and also has more than one way to find its way into private well systems. Most frequently, natural deposits in the earth can bleed into underground aquifers. Groundwater supplies in Minneapolis, Minnesota for instance can have very high readings of arsenic in part due to its location on a glacial path. In British Columbia, arsenic-containing bedrock formations are to be blamed.

What nature starts, pesticides, herbicides and agricultural/industrial runoff can finish. That runoff becomes particularly aggressive during the spring, after snow melts and rains cause low-level flooding. Groundwater can then be an unsuspecting highway for arsenic transportation as it dumps into wells, both private and municipal.

People worried about arsenic should first invest in a test. The Culligan man specializes in targeting and neutralizing clans of contaminants like the arseninja…we mean arsenic. If arsenic is found in a water source, a Culligan Whole House Arsenic Reduction Filter can offer peace of mind from these unseen water warriors.

Remember, the Culligan Man is only one click or call away and can be at your home faster than a throwing star.

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