COMMON WATER PROBLEMS AND
HOW TO SOLVE THEM!
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Introduction to the problems and solutions for: Acidic Water, Bacteria,
Brackish, (Salty Taste) Carbon Dioxide or Carbonic Acid, Chlorine,
Chloride, Chemicals, Cryptosporidium, Hardness,
Iron, Rotten Egg odor in cold water, Rotten Egg odor in hot water only, Musty
Smell, Total Dissolved Solids, Oil or Gas, Salty, Sewage, Nitrates, Fluoride,
Sodium, Methane, Phenol, Lead, Total Dissolved Solids, Volatile Organics,
Manganese, pH, Silver, Sulfate, Zinc, Turbidity, Copper.
Complete Alphabetical List:
||Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
||Total Dissolved Solids
||TOC (Total Organic Carbon)
||VOCs (Volatile Organic
Home water supplies contain dissolved minerals, gasses, bad smells,
and unsightly appearances that are easily removed. These problems can be
corrected by the use of Alpha Water Systems Inc treatment equipment. Common
water problems, their causes and our various products for treatment are
Frequently there can be several methods to correct a given problem.
The selection of the type of equipment and treatment depends on the severity
of the problem.
It is not a good idea to install equipment on any water supply
without first taking a
or water test. Correct sizing will provide maximum longevity of Alpha
Water Systems Inc. Equipment.
We suggest that you call or email with any question before purchasing
equipment so that one of our water treatment specialists can size your equipment
properly. This is done to assure you of the correct system for your water
A 10 part $85.00 water test will give
us the information we need to size the correct equipment for your individual
needs. This analysis is for mineral content only.
Send a eight ounce water sample to our lab:
ALPHA WATER SYSTEMS INC.
P.O. BOX 1210
MONTAGUE, N.J. 07827
We offer a 3 part Hardness, Iron and pH test for Free, just mail
us a sample!
Please include your email address so we can contact you.
We have Home
Test Products available for testing your own water!
If bacteria or other contamination is suspected, send a water sample
to your Local or State
Board of Health. Please call us at 973-293-7856 If you have
GLOSSARY OF COMMON TERMS USED IN WATER TREATMENT
Grains per Gallon (GPG) - A means of expressing the amount of dissolved
minerals in water. One grain per gallon equals 17.1 parts per million (ppm).
Parts Per Million - a common term used in water analysis. One part
per million (ppm) equals one pound per million pounds of water. Parts per
million may be converted to grains per gallon by dividing by 17.1. One part
per million is equal to one milligram per liter.
Compensated Hardness - Always used for determining water softener
capacity. It takes into account the amount of iron present in the water
as well as hardness content. To determine compensated hardness, add three
times the iron content in ppm to the actual hardness.
Example: Actual hardness = 45 grains per gallon, Iron content =
3 ppm (parts per million, same as mg/L, or milligrams per Liter). Twice the
iron content (2x3)=6 plus the actual hardness - 45 equals a compensated hardness
of 51 grains per gallon.
Ion - Electrically charged ions form when any mineral is dissolved
in water. (e.g. when common salt (NaCl) is dissolved in water it forms positively
charged ions (NA+) and negatively charged ions (CL-). The positively charged
ions are called cations and the negatively charged ions are anions.)
pH - This term is used to express the acidic or basic strength
of water. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral indicating
a balance between acidic and basic elements. Values below 7 indicate increasing
acid strength as the pH approaches 0. Values above 7 indicate increasing
basic strength as the pH approaches 14.
COMMON WATER PROBLEMS AND THE PRODUCTS
TO SOLVE THEM
HARDNESS - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
Hardness is due to calcium and magnesium dissolved in water and
is measured in grains or ppm. Iron can also contribute to hardness.
These elements form scale in piping, water heaters, and dishwashers causing
expensive repairs. Hard water increases soap consumption, starches your laundry,
leave a scratchy feeling after bathing, leaves hair hard to manage, scales
glasses and dishes, and affects taste and tenderness of many cooked foods.
Hardness is removed with a Water Softener.
The proper size and type of softener depends on:
1. The compensated hardness (iron content determined)
2. The amount of water used per day (outside faucets excluded)
3. Flow rate required
IRON- EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.3 ppm
Iron in water imparts a bad metallic taste. It causes rust stains
in toilets, plumbing fixtures, tableware and laundry. As little as 0.1 ppm
of iron can cause these problems.
Iron can exist in water in one of two forms or both. Treatment
depends on the form of iron present. Waters containing "ferrous iron" are
clear and colorless when drawn. Exposure to air converts ferrous iron into
the the insoluble, reddish brown "ferric iron".
Iron can be removed from water by the following methods:
FERROUS IRON - Model AFE-10P
& Model AIFN-47,
AIFN-97 Terminater Iron Systems can handle up to 30 PPM.
A Water Softener
FGA SERIES can remove up to 5 ppm of ferrous iron depending upon size
and the type of softener.
FERRIC IRON - Model AFE-10P
Iron System If the water contains Hardness & considerable ferric
iron as evidenced by a reddish brown color, use a Model AFE-10P Iron
System as well as a sediment filter ahead of the Water Softener.
The sediment filter will remove a portion of the insoluble ferric iron
and the iron system with the water softener will remove the soluble ferrous
Oxidizing iron filters (greensand filter) (Model AFE-10P)
Oxidizing filters can remove up to 10 ppm of both ferric (oxidized) and
ferrous (clear) iron. They work well with all types of private water system
pressure tanks. Sulphur removal is also possible with these filters when
levels are 2.0 ppm or less. In cases where both iron and sulphur are present
it is suggested that a sediment filter/water softener combination be installed
for removal of all iron. The sulphur can then be removed by an oxidizing
filter installed after the softener. Oxidizing filters require back washing
and regeneration with potassium permanganate. Automatic and manual types
are available. Do not use oxidizing filters on water supplies that have
a PH of 6.8 or less, sulphur in excess of 2.0 ppm or iron amounts exceeding
10 ppm. Call 973-293-7856 for
Catalytic type filters can remove up to 10 ppm of both ferric (oxidized)
and ferrous (clear iron) as well. The most popular catalytic iron
filter is the pyrolox media. Pyrolox works on the principle of a catalyst
reaction, but itself remains relatively unchanged. Pyrolox works on a principle
whereby the hydrogen sulfide, iron, and manganese are actually oxidized
in the media and simple back washing cleans the bed. No chemical regeneration
A micronizer and air vent is a good supplement to assist in any
oxidation process. A micronizer is installed ahead of some sort of water
storage tank (usually a pressure tank) and its purpose is to inject air into
the stream of water passing by. Once air is in the water it works to
solidify (oxidize) (Model
AIFN-47 Terminater) the iron in the water.
- this means of iron removal is recommended only when a sulfur or extreme
iron bacteria, or taste and odor problem also exists. Use a Chemical Solution Pump
and Tank to feed chlorine (household bleach) into the line ahead of
the pressure tank. Chlorine causes iron in the water to form particles which
can be filtered. On low pH waters an acid neutralizing compound should be
added to the chlorine solution to facilitate iron removal. Use an activated
carbon filter following the pressure tank to remove the iron particles as
well as any excess chlorine. NOTE - THE RETENTION TIME OF THIS METHOD
FOR IRON REMOVAL DEPENDS UPON AT LEAST 25 MINUTES OF CONTACT TIME FOR THE
CHLORINE TO FULLY REACT WITH THE IRON. THIS CONTACT TIME CAN BE PROVIDED
BY AN ADDITIONAL STORAGE TANK.
Acidic and Iron corrosion - Waters with a pH below 6.7 (acid waters)
usually will cause iron-pick up in piping systems and contribute to iron
staining problems. Blue to green staining will result if the piping is copper.
The lower the pH, the greater the corrosive tendency of the water. The
recommended pH limits of water for use in the home are 6.6 to 8.5 Waters
with pH less than 6.6 contain sufficient acidity to cause significant corrosion
and should always be treated. Waters containing appreciable amounts of
oxygen also tend to be corrosive. One common method of treatment to prevent
1. Neutralization of acidity with an alkaline material.
Neutralization of Acid Waters - Acid neutralizing filters (Model AFN-10) contain
a mineral that reacts with acidity to raise the pH of water. This process
slowly dissolves the mineral and adds a few grains of hardness to the water.
The combination of an acid neutralizer filter and softener can be applied
to acidic waters containing up to 15 ppm of iron. Acid neutralizing filters
require the addition of several pounds of mineral once a year for a family
NOTE: WATERS WITH PH BELOW 5.5 REQUIRE SPECIAL ATTENTION. SEND
A SAMPLE TO US FOR ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATION.
**What is pH and what's the
difference between acid and
Water (H 2 O) contains both hydrogen (H+) ions and hydroxyl ions (OH-).
pH is used to describe the measurement of the H+ ion concentration
of liquids and substances. Simply put, pH relates to the relative acidity
of a liquid solution. Each measurement is given a pH value on a scale of
0 to 14, with 7 being considered “neutral.”If a sample has more H+ ions than
OH- ions, it is considered acidic, or having a pH of less than 7. Examples
of acidic liquids around the house are vinegar, lemon juice and soft drinks
such as cola. If a sample has more OH- ions than H+ ions it is considered
basic or alkaline, and has a pH greater than 7. Liquids and substances that
are basic (alkaline) are baking soda, antacids and drain cleaners. For every
one unit of change on the pH scale—4 to 3, 7 to 8—there
is a tenfold change in how acidic or basic the sample is. For example,
the average pH of rain fall over much of the northeastern United States
is 4.3, or roughly 10 times more acidic than rainfall elsewhere in the United
States, which is 5.0-5.6. Lakes with a pH of 4 (acidic) are roughly 100
times more acidic than lakes with a pH of 6. Measuring the pH of water is
routine when assessing the “health” of a body of water. The pH of water
is usually always changing, and a change in the chemical nature of the system
will often reflect a change in the pH. The pH value
of water is important to most organisms, and a change in the pH can
result in the water becoming unsuitable. Most organisms are used to a specific
pH range, and can die from the effects of a change in the pH. At pH values
as low as 4.5 and as high as 9.6 the water becomes harmful to organisms
Solution Pump - A chemical solution pump may be used to feed a solution
of acid neutralizer into the water system. The feed solution is prepared
by dissolving a rapidly soluble powder form of soda ash in water. Both the
strength of the feed solution and the chemical solution pump rate can be
adjusted to produce any desired pH. On private well systems, the chemical
solution pump is wired into the pressure switch so that it operates with the
well pump. In the absence of an electrically operated well or water pump (i.e.
city or gravity pressure supply) it would be best to use an acid neutralizing
CHLORINE- EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
Cholrine taste and odor in the water is usually caused by Chlorine's
deliberate introduction into municipal water supplies for the destruction
of bacteria and volatile organics. Chlorine can exist in water in its free
state (Called free chlorine) or can make chlorine compounds. Both are equally
The most cost effective method to remove chlorine from the water
is through a granular activated carbon filter. (Model AFC-10)
This non-maintenance solution eliminates the need to continually change
cartridge filters and the media lasts much longer than the cartridge counterparts.
Click here for
Carbon Filter Cartridges can also be used, but a whole house carbon
filter lasts longer and provides a better sediment filtration than a small
granular activated cartridge filter. If a reverse osmosis system is
used, use only a CTA membrane. TFC membranes have their limitation with
chlorine, unless they are pre filtered with a carbon block cartridge Click here for a Reverse
MUSTY, MOLDY, OR WOODY SMELL - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
Caused by decay of organic matter or non-harmful bacteria. Use
a backwashable carbon filter AFC-10 to remove
the taste, odor, as well as sediment. In sever cases chlorination of the
well and piping system will be necessary.
Osmosis 26 GPD system would do well to purify the drinking water.
OIL OR GAS - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: Varied based on compound
Caused by natural elements in underground water or by leakage of
oil or gasoline storage tanks. Activated Carbon Filters
AFC-10 are very successful when the two are used in series.
If you have water that has absorbed petroleum products, please
send a sample to us, we can have it analyzed and prescribe proper treatment.
ROTTON EGG ODOR IN COLD WATER- EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
Caused by hydrogen sulfide gas . This gas is very corrosive and
will react with iron to form a black sludge of iron sulfide.
Most sulfur waters contain from 1 to 5 ppm of hydrogen sulfide.
Use a Chemical
Feed Pump CT-015 to feed chlorine (bleach) in to the line ahead of
the pressure tank with Magnum Accelerator MAGEX (3 ppm
of chlorine is required for each ppm of hydrogen sulfide). Chlorine causes
the formation of sulfur particles that can be filtered. Install an Activated Carbon Filter
AFC-10 following the pressure tank to remove the sulfur particles as
well as any excess chlorine.
If it is your desire to have a low-maintenance solution, an AFE-10P (up to 4
ppm of hydrogen sulfide max) will solve your problem.
ROTTON EGG ODOR IN HOT WATER ONLY- EPA Maximum Contaminant level:
Since a magnesium *anode in the water heater creates a condition
favoring bacteria growth, remove the magnesium anode and replace it with
an aluminum rod. The manufacturer of your hot water heater can be called
to get the right size aluminum rod for the unit. When removing the old magnesium
anode rods be sure to not break off any small pieces of the old rod! Drain
and flush the water heater and chlorinate the water heater.
*The anode rod is installed by the manufacturer of the heater
to protect the heater against mineral corrosion and premature tank failure.
SALTY OR BRACKISH TASTE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 250
Caused by high chloride or sulfate content. When the total of chlorides
exceeds 65 grains per gallon, the disagreeable taste will be noticed by
almost all people.
Filtering by Reverse Osmosis
is the best way to solve this problem.
SEWAGE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: Varies on compound
The first thing to do if you suspect that your water is contaminated
by sewage is to send a water sample to your local, provincial, or national
governing body to determine if sewage pollution is present in your water
Eliminate the source of contamination if possible (Surface runoff,
cracked well casing, proximity to septic tank, faulty well seal, etc..). Next,
install either an Ultraviolet light with a small sediment pre filter with
little maintenance, only a light bulb change yearly! (UV MAX 14
GPM) or a much more involved Chemical Feed Pump
to feed chlorine (household bleach) into the system to a slight excess
(i.e. more than is required to react with the amount of contamination present).
This assures sufficient chlorine in the system to protect against small
fluctuations in the amount of contamination present. Install a drip valve
after the chlorinator and get a test kit to test chlorine content. Install
a backwashable carbon filter (AFC-10) to
remove excess chlorine and test for chlorine both before the block carbon
filter and after. The reduction of chlorine should be considerable.
Finally, a Reverse Osmosis
unit at the end of the process is recommended (CTA membrane for RO).
(Not needed with Ultraviolet light Model UV MAX)
NITRATES - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 10 mg/L
Nitrates occur in water as a result of seepage through nitrate
bearing rocks or soils. The nitrate may also come from fertilizers or pollution
with organic wastes. Cyanosis ("blue baby") may occur in infants whose drinking
or formula water contains a high concentration of nitrates. Water containing
more than 10-20 ppm of nitrate expressed as nitrogen should not be used
for infant feeding. Nitrate is reduced to Nitrite in the body.
Nitrates can be removed from drinking water through Reverse Osmosis
Reductions of up to 96-100% are achieved.
Nitrates may also be removed throughout the whole house with a
Nitrate selective Water Conditioner. Model FGA-60N
Call 973-293-7856 for details.
FLUORIDES - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 2 mg/L
Fluoride in water can be both good or bad, depending on the levels
of concentration. Research has shown that a concentration of about one milligram
per liter (mg/L or ppm) of fluoride in drinking water reduces tooth decay.
When drinking water contains excessive fluoride above two ppm,
it causes "endemic dental fluorsis". Sometimes called "Colorado Brown Stain",
it appears as a dark brown spotting of the teeth or causes them to become
chalky white. Above four milligrams of fluoride per liter can cause crippling
skeletal fluorosis, a serious bone disorder.
Osmosis systems are effective at removing up to 96% of all Fluorides present
CARBON DIOXIDE OR CARBONIC ACID - EPA Maximum Contaminant level:
Rain water as it is falling through the sky absorbs Carbon Dioxide
to make Carbonic Acid. This acid when it comes into contact with limestone
absorbs the calcium from the limestone and this chemical reaction is where
hard water comes from. At times, the carbonic acid can't dissolve any substance
in the ground, remains acidic, and waits until it gets into a homeowner's
house before it begins to dissolve metal pipes and appliances. In certain
parts of the country where this problem is prevalent, it is serious.
The solutions are several, but probably the most effective is using
a 1 Cu Ft Acid neutralizer tank that backwashes to keep itself free of sediment.
This system requires periodic refills of Calcite.
Feeding a solution of soda ash sodium carbonate (NA2CO3) Is another
way to neutralize acidity. This second method requires a CT-015 Chemical Feed
Pump and Tank with bleed valve included.
SODIUM - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
High concentrations of sodium tend to increase the corrosive action
of water, give it unpleasant taste, and tend to hamper the operation of
ion exchange softeners in the removal of hardness.
will completely remove sodium from water.
METHANE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
Wells that contain methane are generally located in areas where
gas and oil wells are common sights.
When water contains methane gas it is important to aerate it prior
to use for either industrial or household purposes.
PHENOL - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: N/A
An industrial waste. In concentrations as low as 1 part per billion,
this can cause an objectionable taste in chlorinated water due to the formation
This may be removed by a Backwashable Model
AFC-10 Carbon Filter.
LEAD - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.015 mg/L
At one time it was not generally known that Lead could be poisonous.
Unfortunately, this was a time when many of our cities were beginning to
provide underground plumbing to many neighborhoods. Lead was used as a soldering
agent to fix pipes together. Lead can be extremely dangerous to small children
and should be a priority to eliminate.
Certain Carbon Filters
are good lead deterrents as well as Reverse Osmosis
TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS (TDS)- EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 500
Pure water is a good conductor of electricity, true or false? The
answer might surprise you. Pure water is a very poor conductor of electricity,
in fact, it is highly resistant to electrical impulses. Its the other stuff
in the water that make it a good conductor of electricity, and the more stuff,
the better conductor of electricity water is. The primary ions that make
up TDS is Calcium Ca++, Magnesium Mg++, Sodium Na+, Iron Fe++, Manganese
Mn++, Bicarbonate HCO3-, Chloride Cl-, Sulfate SO4--, Nitrate NO3-, Carbonate
Osmosis is the best way to eliminate these wide varieties of total
dissolved solids.We have a TDS chart below at the end of this page.
Test your own TDS and verify RO production.
Algae, Diatoms, Fungus, Molds, Bacteria, Viruses, Protozoa, Nematodes.
Disinfection methods include Reverse Osmosis,
or UV Light
CHLORIDE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 250 mg/L
A natural forming mineral in sea water and sedimentary rock. The
main problems with chlorides have to do with taste, corrosion to pipes, and
chlorides is well known for being toxic to plants.
The best way to get rid of chlorides is through Desalination or Reverse Osmosis
FOAMING AGENTS - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.5 mg/L
Detergents, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides. At small levels,
mainly has a negative aesthetic effect.
or Reverse Osmosis
MANGANESE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.05 mg/L
Naturally occurring metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, industrial
contaminant. Taste is affected. Staining, scaling, and discoloration of water.
Softener or Manganese Greensand Filter Model AFE
pH - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: Less than 6.5, Greater than
6.5-8.5 is the acceptable range
Carbonates, bicarbonates, carbon dioxide, industrial contaminants.
If highly acidic (less than 6.5) it causes corrosion to pipes. If highly basic
(greater than 8.5) it causes staining.
Acid Neutralizer for pH lower than 6.6 (Model AFN-10)
SILVER - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.1 mg/L
Natural mineral deposits, battery manufacturing, plating, medical
and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Causes discoloration of skin.
exchange, Reverse Osmosis
SULFATE - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 250 mg/L
Naturally occurring, gypsum, mine and industrial wastes. Gives
off bad taste and has a laxative effects.
exchange, Reverse Osmosis
ZINC - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 5 mg/L
Corrosion of plumbing materials, industrial contamination. Gives
off a foul taste.
exchange, Reverse Osmosis
TURBIDITY - EPA Maximum Contaminant level: 0.5 - 1.0 NTU
Turbidity is caused by erosion runoff and discharges. It mainly
has to do with measuring the light shining through a container holding water
in question. The less the light, the more the turbidity, the more the light,
the less the turbidity. Primarily, turbidity interferes with UV light or Chlorine disinfection.
For this reason it needs to be removed.
Turbidity can be removed by Filtration, Greensand, Reverse Osmosis
COPPER EPA Maximum Contaminant Level: 1.3 mg/L
Caused by corrosion of interior household and building pipes. Causes
stomach and intestinal distress. Wilson's disease.
exchange, Reverse Osmosis
ACIDIC WATER EPA Maximum
Contaminant Level: 6.5 pH
- Source - Acidic
waters usually get their acidity from the seepage of rain water, or acidic
- Treatment - Acidic
water can be neutralized by running it through a calcite filter (Model AFN-10), corosex
or a combination of the two. The calcite and the corosex both neutralize
by dissolving and they add hardness to the water as the neutralization takes
place; therefore, they both need to be replenished on a periodic basis.
- Source - Aluminum
(Al+3) is an abundant metal in the Earth's surface, but its solubility in
water is so low that it is seldom a concern in municipal or industrial water
systems. The majority of natural water contains from 0.1 ppm up to 9.0
ppm of Aluminum, however the primary Source of Aluminum in drinking water
comes from the use of aluminum sulfate (alum) as a coagulant in water treatment
plants. The total dietary exposure to aluminum salts averages around 20
mg/day. Aluminum is on the US EPA's Secondary Drinking Water Standards list
with suggested levels of 0.05 - 0.2 mg/l.
- Treatment - Aluminum
can be removed from water by a Water Softener
cation exchanger but hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid must be used for
regeneration to remove the aluminum from the resin. While this is suitable
for an industrial application it is not recommended for domestic use. Reverse Osmosis
will reduce the aluminum content of drinking water by 98 + %.
- Source - Ammonia
(NH3) gas, usually expressed as Nitrogen, is extremely soluble in water.
It is the natural product of decay of organic nitrogen compounds. Ammonia
finds its way into surface supplies from the runoff in agricultural areas
where it is applied as fertilizer. It can also find its way to underground
aquifers from animal feed lots. Ammonia is oxidized to nitrate by bacterial
action. A concentration of 0.1 to 1.0 ppm is typically found in most surface
water supplies, and is expressed as N. Ammonia is not usually found in well
water supplies because the bacteria in the soil converts it nitrates. The
concentration of Ammonia is not restricted by drinking water standards.
Since Ammonia is corrosive to copper alloys it is a concern in cooling systems
and in boiler feed.
- Treatment - Ammonia
can be destroyed chemically by Chlorination.
The initial reaction forms chloramine, and must be completely broken down
before there is a chlorine residual. Organic contaminants in the waste stream
will be destroyed by the chlorine before it will react with the ammonia.
- Source -
Arsenic (As) is not easily dissolved in water, therefore, if it is found
in a water supply, it usually comes from mining or metallurgical operations
or from runoff from agricultural areas where materials containing arsenic
were used as industrial poisons. Arsenic and phosphate easily substitute
for one another chemically, therefore commercial grade phosphate can have
some arsenic in it. Arsenic is highly toxic and has been classified by the
US EPA as a carcinogen. The current MCL for arsenic is 0.05 mg/l which was
derived from toxicity considerations rather than carcinogenicity.
- Treatment - If
in an inorganic form, arsenic can be removed or reduced by water treatment
processes. There are five ways to remove inorganic contaminants; Reverse Osmosis, Whole House Arsenic unit Ion Exchange, Activated Carbon,
and Distillation. Filtration through Activated Carbon
will reduce the amount of arsenic in drinking water from 40 - 70%. Anion
exchange can reduce it by 90 - 100%. Reverse Osmosis
has a 90% removal rate. If the arsenic is present in organic form,
it can be removed by oxidation of the organic material and subsequent coagulation.
- Source - Bacteria
are tiny organisms occurring naturally in water. Not all types of bacteria
are harmful. Many organisms found in water are of no health concern since
they do not cause disease. Biological contamination may be separated into
two groups: (1) pathogenic (disease causing) and
- (2) non-pathogenic (not
disease causing). Pathogenic bacteria cause illnesses such as typhoid fever,
dysentery, gastroenteritis, infectious hepatitis, and cholera. All water
supplies should be tested for biological content prior to use and consumption.
E.Coli (Escherichia Coli) is the coliform bacterial organism which is looked
for when testing the water. This organism is found in the intestines and
fecal matter of humans and animals. If E.Coli is found in a water supply
along with high nitrate and chloride levels, it usually indicates that waste
has contaminated the supply from a septic system or sewage dumping, and has
entered by way of runoff, a fractured well casing, or broken lines. If coliform
bacteria is present, it is an indication that disease causing bacteria may
also be present. Four or fewer colonies / 100 ml of coliforms, in the absence
of high nitrates and chlorides, implies that surface water is entering the
water system. If pathogenic bacteria is suspected, a sample of water should
be submitted to the Board of Health or US EPA for bacteriological testing
and recommendations. The most common non-pathogenic bacteria found in water,
is iron bacteria. Iron bacteria can be readily identified by the red, feathery
floc which forms overnight at the bottom of a sample bottle containing iron
and iron bacteria. It grows in the sample jar!
- Treatment - Bacteria
can be treated by Ultraviolet light,
Osmosis or Chemical Oxidation and
Disinfection. Ultraviolet sterilization is the most efficient way
to kill bacteria. Ultraviolet sterilization needs to be pre filtered with
a 5 micron sediment filter and the water needs to be iron free. Chlorine Injection
is the oldest method of chemical oxidation and disinfection. Chlorine must
be fed at 3 to 5 ppm to treat for bacteria and a residual of 0.4 ppm of
free chlorine must be maintained for 30 minutes in order to meet US EPA
standards. Reverse Osmosis
as a back up to everything except the Ultraviolet Light, will remove
99+ % of the bacteria in a drinking water system.
- Source - Barium
(Ba+2)is a naturally occurring alkaline earth metal found primarily in the
midwest. Traces of the element are found in surface and ground waters. It
can also be found in oil and gas drilling muds, waste from coal fired power
plants, jet fuels, and automotive paints. Barium is highly toxic when its
soluble salts are ingested. The current MCL for Barium is 2.0 mg/l.
- Treatment - Sodium
form cation exchange units (Water Softeners)
are very effective at removing Barium. Reverse Osmosis
is also extremely effective in its removal, as well as a Distiller.
- Source - Benzene,
a byproduct of petroleum refining, is used as an intermediate in the production
of synthesized plastics, and is also an additive in gasoline. Gasoline
contains approximately 0.8 percent benzene by volume. Benzene is classified
as a volatile organic chemical (VOC) and is considered a carcinogen by the
US EPA. Benzene makes its way into water supplies from leaking fuel tanks,
industrial chemical waste, pharmaceutical industry waste, or from run off
of pesticides. The current US EPA MCL for Benzene is 0.005 mg/l.
- Treatment - Benzene
can be removed with Model AFC-10
Activated carbon. Approximately 1000 gallons of water containing 570
ppb of benzene can be treated with 0.35 lbs of activated carbon, in other
words; 94,300 gallons of water can be treated for every cubic foot of carbon.
The benzene must be in contact with the carbon for a minimum of 10 minutes.
If the required flow rate is 5 gpm, then 50 gallon of carbon is required;
which converts to approx. 7 cu. ft. The activated carbon must be replaced
- BORATE (BORON)
- Source - Borate
B(OH)4- is a compound of Boron. Most of the world's boron is contained in
sea water. Sodium borate occurs in arid regions where inland seas once existed
but have long since evaporated. Boron is frequently present in fresh water
supplies in these same areas in the form of non-ionized boric acid. The
amount of boric acid is not limited by drinking water standards, but it can
be damaging to citrus crops if it is present in irrigation water and becomes
concentrated in the soil.
- Treatment - Boron
behaves like silica when it is in an aqueous solution. It can be removed
with an Anion Exchanger or adsorbed utilizing an Activated Carbon
- BROMINE (BROMIDE)
- Source - Bromine
is found in sea water and exists as the bromide ion at a level of about 65
mg/l. Bromine has been used in swimming pools and cooling towers for disinfection,
however use in drinking water is not recommended. Ethylene bromide is used
as an anti-knock additive in gasoline, and methyl bromide is a soil fumigant.
Bromine is extremely reactive and corrosive, and will produce irritation
and burning to exposed tissues. Over 0.05 mg/l in fresh water may indicate
the presence of industrial wastes, possibly from the use of pesticides of
biocides containing bromine. Bromide is extensively used in the pharmaceutical
industry, and occurs normally in blood in the range of 1.5 to 50 mg/l.
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis will
remove 93 -96 % of the bromide from drinking water. Since bromine is a
disinfectant, it along with the disinfection by-products can also be removed
- Source - Cadmium
enters the environment through a variety of industrial operations, it is
an impurity found in zinc. By-products from mining, smelting, electroplating,
pigment, and plasticizer production can contain cadmium. Cadmium emissions
come from fossil fuel use. Cadmium makes its way into the water supplies
as a result of deterioration of galvanized plumbing, industrial waste or
fertilizer contamination.. The US EPA Primary Drinking Water Standards lists
Cadmium with a 0.005 mg/l MCL.
- Treatment - Cadmium
can be removed from drinking water with a sodium form cation exchanger
(softener). Reverse Osmosis
will remove 95 - 98 % of the cadmium in the water.
- Source - Calcium
is the major component of hardness in water and is usually in the range of
5 - 500 mg/l, as CaCO3 . Calcium is derived from nearly all rock, but the
greatest concentrations come from limestone and gypsum. Calcium ions are
the principal cations in most natural waters. Calcium reduction is required
in treating cooling tower makeup. Complete removal is required in metal
finishing, textile operations, and boiler feed applications.
- Treatment - Calcium,
as with all hardness, can be removed with a simple sodium form cation exchanger
Osmosis will remove
- 95 - 98 % of the calcium
in the water.
- CARBON DIOXIDE
- Source - Free
carbon dioxide (CO2) exists in varying amounts in most natural water supplies.
Most well waters will contain less than 50 ppm. Carbon Dioxide in water
yields an acidic condition. Water (H2O) plus carbon dioxide (CO2) yields
carbonic acid (H2CO3). The dissociation of carbonic acid yields hydrogen
(H+) and bicarbonate alkalinity (HCO3). The pH value will drop as the concentration
of carbon dioxide increases, and conversely will increase as the bicarbonate
alkalinity content increases.
- H2O + CO2 <====>
H2CO3 <====> H+ + HCO3-
- Water with a pH of 3.5
or below generally, contains mineral acids such as sulfuric or hydrochloric
acid. Carbon Dioxide can exist in waters with pH values from 3.6 to 8.4,
but will never be present in waters having a pH of 8.5 or above. The pH value
is not a measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide in the water, but
rather the relationship of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate alkalinity.
- Treatment - Free
CO2 can be easily dissipated by aeration. A two column deionizer (consisting
of a hydrogen form strong acid cation and a hydroxide form strong base anion)
will also remove the carbon dioxide. The cation exchanger (Water Softener)
adds the hydrogen ion (H+) which shifts the above equation to the left
in favor of water and carbon dioxide release. The anion resin removes the
carbon dioxide by actually removing the bicarbonate ion. A forced draft
degasifier placed between the cation and anion will serve to blow off the
CO2 before it reaches the anion bed, thus reducing the capacity requirements
for the anion resin. The CO2 can be eliminated by raising the pH to 8.5
or above with a soda ash or caustic soda Chemical Feed System.
- CARBON TETRACHLORIDE
- Source - Carbon
tetrachloride (CCl4) is a volatile organic chemical (VOC), and is primarily
used in the manufacture of chlorofluoromethane but also in grain fumigants,
fire extinguishers, solvents, and cleaning agents. Many water supplies across
the country have been found to contain measurable amounts of VOC's. VOC's
pose a possible health risk because a number of them are probable or known
carcinogens. The detection of VOC's in a water supply indicates that a pollution
incident has occurred, because these chemicals are man-made. See Volatile
Organic Chemicals for a complete listing. The US EPA has classified carbon
tetrachloride as a probable human carcinogen and established an MCL of 0.005
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
will remove 70 to 80% of the VOC's in drinking water as will ultra filtration
and electrodialysis. Carbon tetrachloride as well as the other volatile
organic chemicals (VOC's) can also be removed from drinking water with activated
carbon filtration. The adsorption capacity of the carbon will vary with
each type of VOC. The carbon manufacturers can run computer projections
on many of these chemicals and give an estimate as to the amount of VOC
which can be removed before the carbon will need replacement.
- Source- Chloride
(Cl-1) is one of the major anions found in water and are generally combined
with calcium, magnesium, or sodium. Since almost all chloride salts are
highly soluble in water, the chloride content ranges from 10 to 100 mg/l.
Sea water contains over 30,000 mg/l as NaCl. Chloride is associated with
the corrosion of piping because of the compounds formed with it; for example,
magnesium chloride can generate hydrochloric acid when heated. Corrosion
rates and the iron dissolved into the water from piping increases as the sodium
chloride content of the water is increased. The chloride ion is instrumental
in breaking down passivating films which protect ferrous metals and alloys
from corrosion, and is one of the main causes for the pitting corrosion of
stainless steel. The SMCL (suggested maximum contaminant level) for chloride
is 250 mg/l which is due strictly to the objectionable salty taste produced
in drinking water.
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
will remove 90 - 95% of the chlorides because of it's salt rejection capabilities.
Electrodialysis and distillation are two more processes which can be used
to reduce the chloride content of water. Strong base Anion Exchanger which
is the later portion of a two column deionizer does an excellent job at
removing chlorides for industrial applications.
- Source- Chlorine
is the most commonly used agent for the disinfection of water supplies. Chlorine
is a strong oxidizing agent capable of reacting with many impurities in
water including ammonia, proteins, amino acids, iron, and manganese. The amount
of chlorine required to react with these substances is called the chlorine
demand. Liquid chlorine is sodium hypo chlorite. Household liquid bleach
is 5-1/4% sodium hypo chlorite. Chlorine in the form of a solid is calcium
hypo chlorite. When chlorine is added to water, a variety of chloro-compounds
are formed. An example of this would be when ammonia is present, inorganic
compounds known as chloramines are produced. Chlorine also reacts with
residual organic material to produce potentially carcinogenic compounds,
the Trihalomethanes (THM's): chloroform, bromodichloromethane, bromoform,
and chlorodibromomethane. THM regulations has required that other oxidants
and disinfectants be considered in order to minimize THM formation. The
other chemical oxidants being examined are: potassium permanganate, hydrogen
peroxide, chloramines, chlorine dioxide, and ozone. No matter what form
of chlorine is added to water, hypo chlorite, hypochlorous acid, and molecular
chlorine will be formed. The reaction lowers the pH, thus making the water
more corrosive and aggressive to steel and copper pipe.
- Treatment - Chlorinated
water can be passed through a activated carbon filter. Activated carbon
and up, Carbon Whole House Filter will remove 880,000 ppm of free chlorine
per cubic foot of media.
- Source - Chromium
is found in drinking water as a result of industrial waste contamination.
The occurrence of excess chromium is relatively infrequent. Proper tests
must be run on the water supply to determine the form of the chromium present.
Trivalent chromium (Cr=3 ) is slightly soluble in water, and is considered
essential in man and animals for efficient lipid, glucose, and protein
metabolism. Hexavalent chromium
- (Cr=6 ) on the other
hand is considered toxic. The US EPA classifies chromium as a human carcinogen.
The current Drinking Water Standards MCL is .005 mg/l.
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
can effectively reduce both forms of chromium by 90 to 97%.
- Source - Color
in water is almost always due to organic material which is usually extracted
from decaying vegetation. Color is common in surface water supplies, while
it is virtually non-existent in spring water and deep wells. Color in water
may also be the result of natural metallic ions (iron and manganese). A
yellow tint to the water indicates that humic acids are present, referred
to as "tannins". A reddish color would indicate the presence of precipitated
iron. Stains on bathroom fixtures and on laundry are often associated with
color also. Reddish-brown is ferric hydroxide (iron) will precipitate when
the water is exposed to air. Dark brown to black stains are created by manganese.
Excess copper can create blue stains.
- Treatment - Color
is removed by Chemical Feed, retention and filtration. Activated Carbon
filtration will work most effectively to remove color in general. Anion
resin will remove tannins, but must be preceded by a softener or mixed
with fine mesh softener resin. See the headings Iron, Manganese, and Copper
for information their removal or reduction.
- Source - Copper
(Cu+3) in drinking water can be derived from rock weathering, however the
principal Sources are the corrosion of brass and copper piping and the addition
of copper salts when treating water supplies for algae control. Copper is
required by the body for proper nutrition. Insufficient amounts of copper
leads to iron deficiency. However, high doses of copper can cause liver
damage or anemia. The taste threshold for copper in drinking water is 2 -
5 mg/l. The US EPA has proposed a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 1.3
mg/l for copper.
- Treatment - Copper
can be reduced or removed with sodium form strong acid cation resin (Special
Softener) dependent on the concentration. If the cation resin is
regenerated with acid performance will be enhanced. Reverse Osmosis
or Activated Carbon Filtration will also remove copper by adsorption.
- Source - Cryptosporidium
is a protozoan parasite which exists as a round oocyst about 4 to 6 microns
in diameter. Oocysts pass through the stomach into the small intestine where
it's sporozoites invade the cell lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms
of infection include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and low grade fever.
- Treatment - Ultraviolet light
is most effective and Filtration is also effective treatment for protozoan
- Source - Cyanide
(CN-) is extremely toxic and is not commonly found at significant levels
in drinking water. Cyanide is normally found in waste water from metal finishing
operations. The US EPA has not classified cyanide as a carcinogen because
of inadequate data. No MCL level established or even proposed.
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
- Source - Fluoride
(F+) is a common constituent of many minerals. Municipal water treatment
plants commonly add fluoride to the water for prevention of tooth decay,
and maintain a level of 1.5 - 2.5 mg/l. Concentrations above 5 mg/l are detrimental
to tooth structure. High concentrations are contained in waste water from
the manufacture of glass and steel, as well as from foundry operations.
Organic fluorine is present in vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Inorganic fluorine,
under the name of sodium fluoride, is a waste product of aluminum and is
used in some rat poisons. The MCL established for drinking water by the US
EPA is 4 mg/l.
- Treatment - Fluoride
can be reduced by anion exchange. Adsorption by calcium phosphate, magnesium
hydroxide or activated carbon will also reduce the fluoride content of drinking
Osmosis will remove 93 - 95 % of the fluoride.
- GIARDIA LAMBLIA
- Source- Giardia
is a protozoan which can exist as a trophozoite, usually 9 to 21 mm long,
or as an ovoid cyst, approximately 10 mm long and 6 mm wide. Protozoans are
unicellular and colorless organisms that lack a cell wall. When Giardia are
ingested by humans, symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, and cramps. The US
EPA has a treatment technique in effect for Giardia.
- Treatment - Slow
sand filtration or a diatomaceous earth filter can remove up to 99 % of the
cysts when proper pretreatment is utilized. Chemical oxidation - disinfection,
Ultraviolet Light, Nano filtration, and Reverse Osmosis
all effectively remove Giardia cysts. Ultraviolet Lights appears
to be very effective against the cysts when utilized in the chemical oxidation.Another
method is Chlorine, a widely used method of removing Giardia is mechanical
filtration. Because of the size of the parasite, it can easily be removed
with pre coat, solid block carbon, ceramic, pleated membrane, and spun
wrapped filter cartridges. For more information call 973-293-7856.
- Source - Hard
water is found over 80% of the United States. The hardness of a water supply
is determined by the content of calcium and magnesium salts. Calcium and
magnesium combine with bicarbonates, sulfates, chlorides, and nitrates to
form these salts. The standard domestic measurement for hardness is grains
per gallon (gpg) as CaCO3 . Water having
a hardness content less than 0.6 gpg is considered commercially soft. The
calcium and magnesium salts which form hardness are divided into two categories:
1) Temporary Hardness (containing carbonates), and 2) Permanent Hardness
(containing non-carbonates). Below find listings of the various combinations
of permanent and temporary hardness along with their chemical formula and
some information on each.
- Temporary Hardness Salts
- Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) - Known as limestone, rare in water supplies.
Causes alkalinity in water.
- Calcium Bicarbonate [Ca(HCO3)2] - Forms
when water containing CO2 comes in contact with limestone. Also causes alkalinity
in water. When heated CO2 is released
and the calcium bicarbonate reverts back to calcium carbonate thus forming
- Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3) - Known as magnesite with properties similar
to calcium carbonate.
- Magnesium Bicarbonate
- Similar to calcium bicarbonate in its properties.
- Permanent Hardness Salts
- Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4) - Know as gypsum, used to make plaster of
paris. Will precipitate and form scale in boilers when concentrated.
- Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) - Reacts in boiler water to produce a low
pH as follows: CaCl2 + 2HOH ==> Ca(OH)2 + 2HCl
- Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4) - Commonly known as epsom salts, may have
laxative effect if great enough quantity is in the water.
- Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) - Similar in properties to calcium chloride.
- Sodium salts are also
found in household water supplies, but they are considered harmless as long
as they do not exist in large quantities. The US EPA currently has no national
policy with respect to the hardness or softness of public water supplies.
- Treatment - Water Softeners
can remove compensated hardness up to a practical limit of 120
gpg. If the hardness is above 30 gpg or the sodium to hardness ratio is
greater than 33%, then economy salt settings can not be used. If the hardness
is high, then the sodium will be high after softening, and may require that
Osmosis be used for producing drinking water. For more information
- HYDROGEN SULFIDE
- Source - Hydrogen
Sulfide (H2S) is a gas which imparts its
"rotten egg" SULFIDE odor to water supplies. Such waters are distasteful for
drinking purposes and processes in practically all industries. Most sulfur
waters contain from 1 to 5 ppm of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide can interfere
with readings obtained from water samples. It turns hardness and pH tests
gray, and makes iron tests inaccurate. Chlorine bleach should be added to
eliminate the H2S odor; then the hardness,
pH and iron tests can be done. Hydrogen sulfide can not be tested in a lab,
it must be done in the field. Hydrogen sulfide is corrosive to plumbing fixtures
even at low concentrations. H2S fumes will
blacken or darken painted surfaces, giving them a "smoked" appearance.
- Treatment - H2S requires Terminator Model AIFN,
the modern method of Sulphur Odor Systems. This is the easiest method that
requires no regular maintenance.
- For many years chlorine
has been used. The chlorine is to be fed in sufficient quantities to eliminate
it, while leaving a residual in the water (3 ppm of chlorine is required
for each ppm of hydrogen sulfide). Activated Carbon
AFC-10 filtration may then be installed to remove the excess chlorine.
For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Iron
occurs naturally in ground waters in three forms, Ferrous Iron (clear water
iron), Ferric Iron (red water iron), and Heme Iron (organic iron). Each can
exist alone or in combination with the others. Ferrous iron, or clear water
iron as it is sometimes called, is ferrous bicarbonate. The water is clear
when drawn but when turns cloudy when it comes in contact with air. The
air oxidizes the ferrous iron and converts it to ferric iron. Ferric iron,
or ferric hydroxide, is visible in the water when drawn; hence the name
"red water iron". Heme iron is organically bound iron complexed with decomposed
vegetation. The organic materials complexed with the iron are called tannins
or lignins. These organics cause the water to have a weak tea or coffee color.
Certain types of bacteria use iron as an energy Source. They oxidize the
iron from its ferrous state to its ferric state and deposit it in the slimy
gelatinous material which surround them. These bacteria grow in stringy clumps
and are found in most iron bearing waters.
- Treatment - Ferrous
iron (clear water iron) can be removed with a Water Softener
provided it is less than 0.5 ppm for each grain of hardness and the pH
of the water is greater than 6.8. If the ferrous iron is more than 5.0
ppm, it must be converted to ferric iron by contact with a AFE-10P Iron
System oxidizing unit or agents such as chlorine, before it can be removed
by mechanical filtration. Ferric iron (red water iron) can simply be removed
by mechanical filtration. AIFN Series Terminator Iron
filters. Heme iron can be removed by an organic scavenger anion resin,
or by oxidation with chlorine followed by mechanical filtration. Oxidizing
agents such as chlorine will also kill iron bacteria if it is present. For
more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Lead
(Pb+2) found in fresh water usually indicates contamination from metallurgical
wastes or from lead-containing industrial poisons. Lead in drinking water
is primarily from the corrosion of the lead solder used to put together
the copper piping. Lead in the body can cause serious damage to the brain,
kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells. The US EPA considers lead to
be a highly toxic metal and a major health threat. The current level of lead
allowable in drinking water is 0.05 mg/l.
- Treatment - Lead
can be reduced considerably with a water softener. Activated carbon filtration
can also reduce lead to a certain extent. Reverse Osmosis
can remove 94 to 98 % of the lead in drinking water at the point-of-use.
- Source - In July
1976, there was an outbreak of pneumonia effecting 221 people attending
the annual Pennsylvania American Legion convention at the Bellvue-Stratford
Hotel in Philadelphia. Out of the 221 people infected, 34 died. It wasn't
until December 1977 that microbiologists were able to isolate a bacterium
from the autopsy of the lung tissue of one of the legionnaires. The bacterium
was named "Legionella pneumophila" (Legionella in honor of the American Legion,
and pneumophila which is Greek for "lung-loving") and was found to be completely
different from other bacteria. Unlike patients with other pneumonias, patients
with legionnaire's disease often have severe gastrointestinal symptoms,
including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The US EPA has not set a MCL (maximum
contamination level) for Legionella, instead it has outlined the treatment
method which must be followed and the MCLG is 0 mg/l.
- Treatment - Chemical
oxidation-disinfection followed by retention, then filtration could be
used. Since Legionella is a bacteria, Reverse Osmosis
Light are the preferred removal techniques.
- Source - Magnesium
(Mg+2) hardness is usually approximately 33% of the total hardness of a
particular water supply. Magnesium is found in many minerals, including
dolomite, magnesite, and many types of clay. It is in abundance in sea water
where its' concentration is five (5) times the amount of calcium. Magnesium
carbonate is seldom a major component of in scale. However, it must be removed
along with calcium where soft water is required for boiler make-up, or for
- Treatment - Magnesium
may be reduced to less than 1 mg/l with the use of a Water Softener
or cation exchanger in hydrogen form. Also see "Hardness".
- Source - Manganese
(Mn+4, Mn+2) is present in many soils and sediments as well as in rocks
whose structures have been changed by heat and pressure. It is used in the
manufacture of steel to improve corrosion resistance and hardness. Manganese
is considered essential to plant and animal life and can be derived from
such foods as corn, spinach, and whole wheat products. It is known to be
important in building strong bones and may be beneficial to the cardiovascular
system. Manganese may be found in deep well waters at concentrations as
high as 2 - 3 mg/l. It is hard to treat because of the complexes it can
form which are dependent on the oxidation state, pH, bicarbonate-carbonate-OH
ratios, and the presence of other minerals, particularly iron. Concentrations
higher than 0.05 mg/l cause manganese deposits and staining of clothing
and plumbing fixtures. The stains are dark brown to black in nature. The
use of chlorine bleach in the laundry will cause the stains to set. The chemistry
of manganese in water is similar to that of iron. High levels of manganese
in the water produces an unpleasant odor and taste. Organic materials can
tie up manganese in the same manner as they do iron, therefore destruction
of the organic matter is a necessary part of manganese removal.
- Treatment - Removal
of manganese can be done by an Ion Exchange Water Softener
(sodium form cation - softener) or chemical oxidation - retention - filtration.
Removal with a water softener dictates that the pH be 6.8 or higher and
is beneficial to use countercurrent regeneration with brine make-up and
backwash utilizing soft water. It takes 1 ppm of oxygen to treat 1.5 ppm
of manganese. AFE-10P Greensand Filter with
potassium will remove up to 10 ppm if pH is above 8.0. Birm filter with
air injection will reduce manganese if pH is 8.0 to 8.5. Chemical feed (chlorine,
potassium permanganate, or hydrogen peroxide) followed by 20 minutes retention
and then filtered with AIFN-47 Terminator will remove
10 PPM , Greensand,
will also remove the manganese.
- Source - Mercury
(Hg) is one of the least abundant elements in the earth's crust. It exists
in two forms, an inorganic salt or an organic compound (methyl mercury). Mercury
detected in drinking water is of the inorganic type. Organic mercury inters
the food chain through fish and comes primarily from industrial chemical
manufacturing waste or from the leaching of coal ash. If inorganic mercury
inters the body, it usually settles in the kidneys. Whereas organic mercury
attacks the central nervous system. The MCL (maximum contamination level)
for mercury set by the US EPA is 0.002 mg/l.
- Treatment - Activated
carbon filtration is very effective for the removal of mercury. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 95-97 % of it.
- Source - Methane
(CH4), often called marsh gas, is the primary component of natural gas.
It is commonly found where land fills once existed and is generated from
decaying of plants or other carbon based matter. It can also be found in
and around oil fields. Methane is colorless, odorless, nearly invisible,
highly flammable, and often found in conjunction with other gases such as
hydrogen sulfide. Even though methane gas gives water a milky appearance
which makes it aesthetically unpleasant, there are no known health effects.
- Treatment - Aeration
or degasification is the only way to eliminate the problem of methane gas.
Venting the casing and/or the cap of the well will reduce the problem of
methane in the water, but may not completely eliminate it. Another method
is to provide an atmospheric holding tank where the methane laden water can
be vented to allow the gas to dissipate. This method may not be 100% effective
either. An aerator or degasifier is the proper piece of equipment to utilize
for the removal of methane. Water is introduced through the top, sometimes
through spray nozzles, and allowed to percolate through a packing material.
Air is forced in the opposite direction to the water flow. The water is
then collected in the bottom of the unit and repressurized. Call 973-293-7856
for more information on Methane gas removal.
- Source - Nickel
(Ni+2) is common, and exists in approximately 85% of the water supplies,
and is usually around 1 ppb (part per billion). The US EPA has classified
nickel as a possible human carcinogen based on inhalation exposure. Nickel
has not been shown to be carcinogenic via oral exposure. No MCLG (maximum
contamination level goal) has been proposed.
- Treatment - Nickel
behaves the same as iron, and can be removed by a strong acid cation exchanger.
Activated carbon filtration can be used to reduce the amount of nickel in
drinking water, but may not remove it all. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 97 - 98 % of the nickel from drinking water.
- Source - Nitrate
(NO3) comes into water supplies through the nitrogen cycle rather than via
dissolved minerals. It is one of the major ions in natural waters. Most
nitrate that occurs in drinking water is the result of contamination of
ground water supplies by septic systems, feed lots, and agricultural fertilizers.
Nitrate is reduced to nitrite in the body. The US EPA's MCL for nitrate is
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
will remove 92 - 95% of the nitrates and/or nitrites. Anion Exchange
Resin For whole house removal.
- Source - Nitrites
are not usually found in drinking water supplies at concentrations above
1 or 2 mg/l (ppm). Nitrates are reduced to nitrites in the saliva of the
mouth and upper GI tract. This occurs to a much greater degree in infants
than in adults, because of the higher alkaline conditions in their GI tract.
The nitrite then oxidizes hemoglobin in the blood stream to methemoglobin,
thus limiting the ability of the blood to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Anoxia (an insufficiency of oxygen) and death can occur. The US EPA has
established the MCL (maximum contaminant level) for nitrite at 1 mg/l.
- Treatment - Nitrites
are removed in the same manner as nitrates; Reverse Osmosis
Exchange For whole house removal See Nitrate - Treatment.
- Source - Taste
and odor problems of many different types can be encountered in drinking
water. Troublesome compounds may result from biological growth or industrial
activities. The tastes and odors may be produced in the water supply, in
the water treatment plant from reactions with treatment chemicals, in the
distribution system, and/or in the plumbing of consumers. Tastes and odors
can be caused by mineral contaminants in the water, such as the "salty" taste
of water when chlorides are 500 mg/l or above, or the "rotten egg" odor
caused by hydrogen sulfide. Odor in the drinking water is usually caused
by blue-green algae. Moderate concentrations of algae in the water can cause
it to have a "grassy", "musty" or "spicy" odor. Large quantities can cause
the water to have a"rotten", "septic", "fishy" or "medicinal" odor. Decaying
vegetation is probably the most common cause for taste and odor in surface
water supplies. In treated water supplies chlorine can react with organics
and cause odor problems. Odor is listed in the Secondary Drinking Water Standards
by the US EPA. The contaminant effects are strictly aesthetic and a suggested
Threshold Odor Number (TON) of 3 is recommended.
- Treatment - Odor
can be removed by oxidation-reduction or by AFC-10 activated
carbon adsorption. Aeration can be utilized if the contaminant is in the
form of a gas, such as H2S (hydrogen sulfide). Chlorine is the most common
oxidant used in water treatment, but is only partially effective on taste
and odor. AFE-10P
Potassium Permanganate and oxygen are also only partially effective.
Chloramines are not at all effective for the treatment of taste and odor.
The most effective oxidizers for treating taste and odor, are chlorine
dioxide and ozone. Activated carbon has an excellent history of success
in treating taste and odor problems. The life of the carbon depends on the
presence of organics competing for sites and the concentration of the odor
- Source - Organic
matter makes up a significant part of the soil, therefore water soluble
organic compounds are present in all water supplies. Organic matter is reported
on a water analysis as carbon, as it is in the TOC (total organic carbon)
determination. The following is a list of organics which is regulated under
the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986.
||Ethylene dibromide (EDB)
- Organics come from three
- The breakdown of naturally
occurring organic materials.
- Domestic and commercial
- Chemical reactions that
occur during water treatment processes.
- The first Source is comprised of humic materials, microorganisms, and petroleum-based
aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. The second source, derived from domestic and commercial chemical wastes include
wastewater discharges, agricultural runoff, urban runoff, and leaching from
contaminated soils. Organic contaminants comprising the third
source which are formed during water treatment include
chlorination and disinfection by-products such as THM's (Trihalomethanes),
or undesirable components of piping assembly such as joint adhesives.
- Treatment - Activated Carbon
is generally used to remove organics, color, and taste-and-odor causing
compounds. The contact time and service flow rate dictate the size of the
carbon filter. When removing organics, restrict flow rates to 2 gpm per
square foot of the filter bed. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 98 to 99% of the organics in the water. Anion Exchange
Resin retains organics, but periodically needs cleaning.
- Source - Pesticides
are common synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs). Pesticides reach surface
and well water supplies from the runoff in agricultural areas where they
are used. Certain pesticides are banned by the government because of their
toxicity to humans or their adverse effect on the environment. Pesticides
usually decompose and break down as they perform their intended function.
Low levels of pesticides are found where complete break down does not occur.
There is no US EPA maximum contamination level (MCL) for pesticides as a
total, each substance is considered separately.
- Treatment - Activated
carbon filtration is an effective way to remove organics whether synthetic
(like pesticides) or natural. Ultra filtration will also remove
organic compounds. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 97 - 99% of the pesticides.
- Source - The term
"PH" is used to indicate acidity or alkalinity of a given solution. It is
not a measure of the quantity of acid or alkali, but rather a measure of
the relationship of the acid to the alkali. The PH value of a solution describes
its hydrogen-ion activity.
- The PH scale ranges between0
- Acidic [ 0 ]=========[
7 ]==========[ 14 ] Alkaline
- Typically all natural
waters fall within the range of 6.0 to 8.0 PH. A value of 7.0 is considered
to be a neutral PH. Values below 7.0 are acidic and values above 7.0 are
alkaline. The PH value of water will decrease as the content of CO2 increases,
and will increase as the content of bicarbonate alkalinity increases. The
ratio of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate alkalinity (within the range of 3.6
to 8.4) is an indication of the PH value of the water. Water with a PH value
of 3.5 or below, generally contains mineral acids such as sulfuric or hydrochloric
- Treatment - The
PH can be raised by a neutralizing filter containing Calcite AFN- (Calcium
Carbonate - CaCO3 ) and/or Corosex (Magnesium Oxide - MgO) will combat
low pH problems. The peak flow rate of a neutralizing filter is 6 gpm /
- Source - Potassium
(K+) is an alkaline metal closely related to sodium. It is seldom that
one sees it analyzed separately on a water analysis. Potassium is not a
major component in public or industrial water supplies. Potassium is, however,
essential in a well balanced diet and can be found in fruits such as bananas.
- Treatment - Potassium
can be removed by a cation exchange resin, usually in the form of a softener.
It can also be reduced by 94 - 97% utilizing Reverse Osmosis.
For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Radium
(Ra) is a radioactive chemical element which can be found in very small amounts
in pitchblende and other uranium minerals. It is used in the treatment of
cancer and some skin diseases. Radium 226 and radium 228 are of most concern
when found in drinking water because of the effects on the health of individuals.
Radium 228 causes bone sarcomas. Radium 226 induces carcinomas in the head.
Radioactivity in water can be naturally occurring or can be from man-made
contamination. Radiation is generally measured in curies (Ci). One curie
equals 3.7 x 1010 nuclear transformations per second. A picocurie (pCi) equals
10-12 curies. The US EPA has set the MCL (maximum contamination level) for
radium 226 and 228 at 5 pCi/L under the NIPDWR (national interim primary
drinking water regulations).
- Treatment - Radium
can be removed by sodium for Cation Exchange
Resin in the form of a water softener. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 95 - 98% of any radioactivity in the drinking water. For more
information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Radon
(Rn) is a radioactive gaseous chemical element formed in the atomic disintegration
of radium. Radon 222 is one of the radionuclides of most concern when found
in drinking water. It is a naturally occurring isotope, but can also come
from man-made Sources. All radionuclides are considered carcinogens, but
the organs they target vary. Since radon 222 is a gas, it can be inhaled
during showers or while washing dishes. There is a direct relationship between
radon 222 and lung cancer.Under the NIPDWR (national interim primary drinking
water regulations), the MCL (maximum contamination level) for radon 222 is
set at 15 pCi/L (see radium for explanation of how radiation is measured).
- Treatment - Radon
is easily removed by aeration, since it is a gas. Carbon Filtration AFC-10
is also very effective in removing radon. For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Selenium
(Se) is essential for human nutrition, with the majority coming from food.
The concentration found in drinking water is usually low, and comes from
natural minerals. Selenium is also a by-product of copper mining / smelting.
It is used in photoelectric devises because it's electrical conductivity
varies with light. Naturally occurring selenium compounds have not been shown
to be carcinogenic in animals. However, acute toxicity caused by high selenium
intake has been observed in laboratory animals and in animals grazing in
areas where high selenium levels exist in the soil. The US EPA has established
the MCL for selenium at 0.05 mg/l.
- Treatment - Anion
exchange can reduce the amount of selenium in drinking water by 60 - 95%.
Osmosis is excellent at reduction of selenium.
- Source - Silica
(SiO2) is an oxide of silicon, and is present in almost all minerals. It
is found in surface and well water in the range of 1 - 100 mg/l. Silica
is considered to be colloidal in nature because of the way it reacts with
adsorbents. A colloid is a gelatinous substance made up of non-diffusible
particles that remain suspended in a fluid medium. Silica is objectionable
in cooling tower makeup and boiler feedwater. Silica evaporates in a boiler
at high temperatures and then redeposits on the turbine blades. These deposits
must be periodically removed or damage to the turbine will occur. Silica
is not listed in the Primary or the Secondary Drinking Water Standards issued
by the US EPA.
- Treatment - Silica
can be removed by the anion exchange portion of the demineralization process.
Osmosis will reject 85 - 90% of the silica content in the water.
For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Silver
(Ag) is a white, precious, metallic chemical element found in natural and
finished water supplies. Silver oxide can be used as a disinfectant, but
usually is not. Chronic exposure to silver results in a blue-gray color of
the skin and organs. This is a permanent aesthetic effect. Silver shows no
evidence of carcinogenicity. Silver has a suggested level of 0.1 mg/l under
the US EPA Secondary Drinking Water Standards.
- Treatment - Silver
can be reduced by 98% with distillation, up to 60% with activated carbon
filtration, up to 90% with cation exchange or anion exchange (dependent
on the pH), or up to 90% by Reverse Osmosis.
For more information call 973-293-7856
(Synthetic Organic Chemicals)
- Source - Over
1000 SOCs (Synthetic Organic Chemicals) have been detected in drinking water
at one time or another. Most are of no concern,but some are potentially
a health risk to consumers. Below is a list of synthetic organic chemicals
along with the proposed MCL (maximum contamination level) in mg/l as determined
by the US EPA Primary Drinking Water Regulations.
Proposed MCL in mg/l
- Treatment - Activated
carbon is best used to remove organics. Flow rates should be restricted
to 2 gpm per square foot of the filter bed. Reverse Osmosis
will remove 98 to 99% of the organics in the water.
- Source - Sodium
(Na) is a major component in drinking water. All water supplies contain some
sodium. The amount is dependent on local soil conditions. The higher the
sodium content of water, the more corrosive the water becomes. A major Source
of sodium in natural waters is from the weathering of feldspars, evaporate
and clay. The American Heart Association has recommended a maximum sodium
level of 20 mg/l in drinking water for patients with hypertension or cardiovascular
disease. Intake from food is generally the major Source of sodium, ranging
from 1100 to 3300 mg/day. Persons requiring restrictions on salt intake,
usually have a sodium limitation down to 500 mg/day. The amount of sodium
obtained from drinking softened water is insignificant compared to the sodium
ingested in the normal human diet. The amount of sodium contained in a quart
of softened, 18 grain per gallon water is equivalent to a normal slice of
white bread. Sodium in the body regulates the osmotic pressure of the blood
plasma to assure the proper blood volume. The US EPA sponsored a symposium
which concluded that there is no relationship between soft water and cardiovascular
- Treatment - Sodium
can be removed with Desalination Systems RO
for sea water. For residential well or municipal water a Reverse Osmosis
or Larger Reverse
Osmosis will reduce sodium by 94 - 98%. For more information
- Source - Strontium
(Sr) is in the same family as calcium and magnesium, and is one of the
polyvalent earth metals that shows up as hardness in the water. The presence
of strontium is usually restricted to areas where there are lead ores,
and its concentration in water is usually very low. Strontium sulfate is
a critical reverse osmosis membrane foulant, dependent on its concentration.
There is no MCL for strontium listed in the US EPA Drinking Water Standards.
- Treatment - Strontium
can be removed with strong acid cation exchange resin. It can be in sodium
form as in a water softener or the hydrogen form as in the cation portion
of a two-column deionizer. Reverse Osmosis
will also reduce strontium but as stated above strontium sulfate
is a membrane foulant.
- Source - Sulfate
(SO4) occurs in almost all natural water. Most sulfate compounds originate
from the oxidation of sulfite ores, the presence of shales, and the existence
of industrial wastes. Sulfate is one of the major dissolved constituents
in rain water. High concentrations of sulfate in drinking water causes a laxative
effect when combined with calcium and magnesium, the two most common components
of hardness. Bacteria which attack and reduce sulfates, causes hydrogen sulfide
gas (H2S) to form. Sulfate has a suggested level of 250 mg/l in the Secondary
Drinking Water Standards published by the US EPA.
- Treatment - Reverse Osmosis
will reduce the sulfate content by 97 - 98%. Sulfates can also be reduced
with a strong base anion exchanger.
- Source - Taste
problems in water come from total dissolved solids (TDS) and the presence
of such metals as iron, copper, manganese, or zinc. Magnesium chloride and
magnesium bicarbonate are significant in terms of taste. Fluoride may also
cause a distinct taste. Taste and odor problems of many different types can
be encountered in drinking water. Troublesome compounds may result from biological
growth or industrial activities. The tastes and odors may be produced in
the water supply, in the water treatment plant from reactions with treatment
chemicals, in the distribution system, and /or in the plumbing of consumers.
Tastes and odors can be caused by mineral contaminants in the water, such
as the "salty" taste of water when chlorides are 500 mg/l or above. Decaying
vegetation is probably the most common cause for taste and odor in surface
water supplies. In treated water supplies chlorine can react with organics
and cause taste and odor problems. See "ODOR" for more information.
- Treatment - Taste
and odor can be removed by oxidation-reduction or by Activated Carbon AFC-10 adsorption.
Aeration can be utilized if the contaminant is in the form of a gas, such
as H2S (hydrogen sulfide). Chlorine is the most common oxidant used in
water treatment, but is only partially effective on taste and odor. Potassium
permanganate and oxygen are also only partially effective. Chloramines are
not at all effective for the treatment of taste and odor. The most effective
oxidizers for treating taste and odor, are chlorine dioxide and ozone. Activated
carbon has an excellent history of success in treating taste and odor problems.
For more information call 973-293-7856
DISOLVED SOLIDS (TDS)
- Source - Total
Dissolved Solids (TDS) consist mainly of carbonates, DISSOLVED bicarbonates,
chlorides, sulfates, phosphates, nitrates, calcium, magnesium, SOLIDS sodium,
potassium, iron, manganese, and a few others. They do not include gases,
colloids, or sediment. The TDS can be estimated by measuring the specific
conductance of the water. Dissolved solids in natural waters range from less
than 10 mg/l for rain to more than 100,000 mg/l for brines. Since TDS is the
sum of all materials dissolved in the water, it has many different mineral
Sources. The chart below indicates the TDS from various Sources.
- GET YOUR OWN TDS METER
TO TEST YOUR OWN WATER
TDS - mg/l
in U.S. (average)
- High levels of total
dissolved solids can adversely industrial applications requiring the use
of water such as cooling tower operations, boiler feed water, food and beverage
industries, and electronics manufacturers. High levels of chloride and sulfate
will accelerate corrosion of metals. The US EPA has a suggested level of
500 mg/l listed in the Secondary Drinking Water Standards. 250 mg/l is too
- Treatment - TDS
reduction is accomplished by reducing the total amount in the water. This
is done during the process of Desalination of Sea
Water or with Reverse Osmosis.
For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - THM's
(Trihalomethanes) are produced when chlorine reacts with residual organic
compounds. The four common THM's are trichloro-methane (chloroform), dibromochloromethane,
dichlorobromomethane, and bromoform. There have been studies that suggest
a connection between chlorination by-products and particularly bladder and
possibly colon and rectal cancer. An MCL of 0.10 mg/l for total THM's exists.
- Treatment - Trihalomethanes
and other halogenated organics can be reduced by adsorption with an AFC- Activated Carbon
Filter. Reverse Osmosis
For more information call 973-293-7856
- Source - Turbidity
is the term given to anything that is suspended in a water supply. It is
found in most surface waters, but usually doesn't exist in ground waters
except in shallow wells and springs after heavy rains. Turbidity gives the
water a cloudy appearance or shows up as dirty sediment. Undissolved material
such as sand, clay, silt or suspended iron contribute to turbidity. Turbidity
can cause the staining of sinks and fixtures as well as the discoloring
of fabrics. Usually turbidity is measured in NTUs (nephelometric turbidity
units). Typical drinking water will have a turbidity level of 0 to 1 NTU.
Turbidity can also be measured in ppm (parts per million) and it's size is
measured in microns. Turbidity can be particles in the water consisting of
finely divided solids, larger than molecules, but not visible by the naked
eye; ranging in size from .001 to .150 mm (1 to 150 microns). The US EPA has
established an MCL for turbidity to be 0.5 to 1.0 NTU, because it interferes
with disinfection of the water.
- Treatment - Typically
turbidity can be reduced with a pre filter, then reduced down to 20 micron
with standard backwashable filter AFE-10P, however
flow rates of 5 gpm/ sq. ft. are recommended maximum. Turbidity can be
reduced to 10 micron with a multimedia filter while providing flow rates
of 15 gpm/sq. ft. Cartridge filters of various sizes are also available
down into the submicron range.
- Source - Uranium
is a naturally occurring radionuclide. Natural uranium combines uranium 234,
uranium 235, and uranium 238; however, uranium 238 makes up 99.27 percent
of the composition. All radionuclides are considered carcinogens; however,
the organs each attacks is different. Uranium is not a proven carcinogen
but accumulates in the bones similar to the way radium does. Therefore,
the US EPA tends to classify it as a carcinogen. Uranium has been found
to have a toxic effect on the human kidneys. Under the NIPDWR (national
interim primary drinking water regulations), the MCL (maximum contamination
level) for uranium is set at 15 pCi/L (see radium for explanation of how
radiation is measured).
- Treatment - Uranium
can be reduced by both cation or anion Water Softener
dependent upon its state. Reverse Osmosis
will reduce uranium by 95 to 98%.
- Source - Viruses
are infectious organisms which range in size from 10 to 25 nanometers [1
nanometer = one billionth (10-9) of a meter]. They are particles composed
of an acidic nucleus surrounded by a protein shell. Viruses depend totally
on living cells and lack an independent metabolism. There are over 100 types
of enteric viruses. Enteric viruses are the viruses which infect humans. Enteric
viruses which are of particular interest in drinking water are hepatitis A,
Norwalk-type viruses, rotaviruses,adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and reoviruses.
The test for coliform bacterial is widely accepted as an indication whether
or not the water is safe to drink, therefore tests for viruses are not usually
conducted. The US EPA has established an MCL which states that 99.99% reduction
or inactivation for viruses. Major enteric viruses and their diseases are
||Polio, Aseptic meningitis, and
||Upper respiratory and gastrointestinal
||Upper respiratory and gastrointestinal
- Treatment - Ultraviolet
Light Technology is the preferred treatment. Chlorine feed with 30 minute
contact time for retention, followed by activated carbon filtration is the
most widely used treatment. Ozone or iodine may also be utilized as oxidizing
Sterilization is used for the treatment of viruses.
(Volatile Organic Chemicals)
- Source - VOCs
pose a possible health risk because many of them are known carcinogens. Volatile
organic chemicals are man-made, therefore the detection of any of them indicates
that there has been a chemical spill or other incident. Volatile organic
chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986 are listed
Volatile Organic Chemicals
US EPA MCL in mg/l
- Treatment - The
best choice for removal of volatile organic chemicals is AFC- Activated Carbon
filtration. The adsorption capacity of the carbon will vary with each type
of VOC. The carbon manufacturers can run computer projections on many of
these chemicals and give an estimate as to the amount of VOC which can be
removed before the carbon will need replacement. Aeration may also be used
alone or in conjunction with the activated carbon.
- Reverse Osmosis
will remove 70 to 80% of the VOCs in the water. For More Information call