Ohio rated 2nd highest in water arsenic levels

Zoe Greszler • Oct 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Have you had your well-water tested for arsenic recently? If not, you may want to consider it according to one recent study, which found Ohio could have the second-highest levels of the poison. 

If you are one of the 1.8 million Ohio residents with well-water, a recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology says you could be drinking a dangerous level of arsenic with every cup. 

Northern Ohio Rural Water (NORW) general manager Shawn Tappel said the state mandates that 10 micrograms per liter (μg/L) or more is considered high and can be dangerous to consumers. 

The study revealed Ohio was second only to Michigan in levels of well-water arsenic exceeding 10 μg/L, with 10 percent of all domestic well-water users predicted to be consuming high levels of the poison.

About 2.1 million people in the U.S. using water from domestic wells were predicted to have arsenic concentration >10 μg/L. Ohio made up up to 294,655 of that 2.1 million. 

“County-level information indicates that six of the 10 counties with the largest number of people with high-arsenic wells are in New England; other top-10 counties are in Ohio, North Carolina, California, and Idaho,” the study said.

Individual county breakdowns weren’t immediately available from the study, however, Tappel said Huron County is fairing better than the state as a whole.  

“Huron County isn’t too bad,” he said. “There are only a couple area wells with even moderate levels of arsenic in the wells. There are more problems in like the eastern part of the state and then central (Ohio). ... There are definitely some areas of Ohio with high levels of arsenic, but Huron County isn’t one of them.”

While Brendan Roberts, deputy environmental health director reported Huron County Public Health (HCPH) hasn’t had any requests for arsenic tests in the past four years, Tappel said NORW is “starting to get more here of late.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports arsenic can enter a water supply via naturally-occurring deposits in the earth or from agriculture or industrial pollution.

“It is widely believed that naturally occurring arsenic dissolves out of certain rock formations when ground water levels drop significantly,” the CDC website said. 

The CDC recommends all well-water consumers get their water tested and said traditional methods of removing other impurities don’t work on arsenic, including bleaching, heating or boiling, which could actually make the water more dangerous.

“Because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process, the arsenic concentrations can actually increase slightly as the water is boiled,” the website said.

Instead it recommends considering water treatment methods for each faucet, such as reverse osmosis, ultra-filtration, distillation or ion exchange.

Well owners who wish to have their water tested can contact HCPH at 419-668-1652 or NORW at 419-668-7213.

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