New US EPA arsenic standard may cost communities $200 million per year, German Technology to be tried

Updated: Tue, Dec 11 9:36 AM EST

PALM DESERT, Calif. (BUSINESS WIRE) - The new arsenic standard announced October 31 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has communities and consumers alike turning to water treatment experts for guidance and technology options.

The new standard, which the EPA estimates will cost local communities $200 million annually, will reduce the maximum amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion by 2006.

Water quality associations, government agencies, and water companies have been working to educate communities about proven and cost-effective arsenic removal methods.

"Already stressed community drinking water systems and budgets will be impacted over the next several years. So, it is even more critical to provide the affected communities with a variety of technologies and services--from wellhead arsenic removal systems to microfiltration or reverse osmosis to point-of-use or point-of-entry systems for household and commercial use," said Andrew Seidel, president and CEO of USFilter.

Responding to requests from municipalities and consumers, USFilter and Culligan have entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with GEH Wasserchemie GmbH of Germany to market Granular Ferric Hydroxide (GFH(TM)) media. The GFH(TM) media removes arsenic (III), arsenic (V), chromium, lead and uranium. The GFH media has been used in Europe for many years to help municipalities meet the World Health Organization standard of 10 micrograms per liter.

The media will be used in community water treatment plants, point-of-use and point-of-entry systems. Through point-of-use systems (under-the-sink) use membrane technology to reduce arsenic levels, plus other contaminants such as nitrate/nitrite, lead and Cryptosporidium and Giardia cysts.

USFilter will also provide wellhead arsenic removal systems by installing the GFH media in pressure vessels. To ensure system integrity, USFilter will use its nationwide service network to provide cost-effective maintenance contracts that include water analysis, media removal, disposal and replacement.

Technologists from USFilter's North American Technology Center are collaborating on various arsenic research projects sponsored by the American Water Works Association, the EPA and the Association of California Water Agencies.

Dr. Paul Gallagher, director of process development at USFilter, explains, "The selection of technology to apply is influenced by many factors including the nature of the arsenic species, arsenic concentration, presence and concentration of additional contaminants, site flow rate and water source."

USFilter offers many other technologies and process routes to help municipalities reduce arsenic levels in their drinking water supplies. Some of these technologies include Memcor(R) coagulation-assisted Microfiltration using and Microfloc(R) pre-engineered adsorption clarifiers, along with reverse osmosis, ion exchange and lime softening.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that enters water supplies through either natural deposition or agriculture and industrial pollution. According to the EPA, health effects related to arsenic include cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and increased risk of various cancers.

The new standard is estimated by the EPA to impact one in 20 or about 4,000 community water systems nationwide. Nearly 97 percent of those are small systems serving communities of fewer than 10,000 people.