Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in rocks, soil, water, air, plants, and animals. While arsenic can be found in both surface water and groundwater, it is more common in groundwater sources like wells. Arsenic levels in well water can be high in certain areas, including parts of Florida like Tampa Bay.
Long-term exposure and ingestion of arsenic can cause serious health effects. High levels of arsenic in well water used for drinking, cooking, and bathing is a major public health concern. That's why it's critical to test well water for arsenic and remove it if necessary.
In this guide, we'll cover the key things Tampa Bay area homeowners need to know about arsenic in well water, including:
Health risks of arsenic exposure
How arsenic gets into well water
Testing well water for arsenic
Effective treatment solutions for removing arsenic from well water
Options like AquaLux Water Softeners, AquaCarbonGuard Filters, and AquaBlue Whole House Filters
Health Effects of Arsenic Exposure
Arsenic is a known carcinogen and ingesting high levels can be acutely toxic. Long-term exposure through drinking water can cause serious health effects, including:
Skin damage and skin cancer
Bladder, lung, and kidney cancer
Arsenic has no smell or taste, so the only way to know if well water contains dangerous levels is to test it. Public water systems are required to routinely test for arsenic. If you rely on private well water, the EPA recommends testing annually.
How Arsenic Ends Up in Well Water
Arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock like limestone and metals. But certain conditions cause it to leach out into groundwater:
Geology - Arsenic is more common in groundwater in areas with igneous and sedimentary bedrock. In Florida, higher levels are found in wells drawing from the Floridan Aquifer.
Surrounding soil - Arsenic can leach out of sulfur-rich soils and sediments.
Well depth/age - Old or very deep wells can have higher arsenic levels.
Groundwater pH - Acidic groundwater (low pH) causes more arsenic to dissolve.
Oxidizing conditions - The form of arsenic that dissolves in water is more common in oxidizing environments.
The geology of the Tampa Bay region unfortunately makes the groundwater more susceptible to containing high arsenic levels, putting many homeowners' well water at risk.
Testing Well Water for Arsenic
Since arsenic is odorless and tasteless, a certified lab test is the only way to confirm if a well has high arsenic levels. Testing annually helps ensure levels remain in check over time.
The EPA has set the maximum contaminant level for arsenic in drinking water at 0.010 mg/L or 10 ppb (parts per billion). At levels above this, treatment is recommended to protect health.
When testing well water for arsenic, be sure to use a certified lab that follows proper sampling and testing methods. Improper collection, storage, and analysis can impact results.
We recommend testing for arsenic along with a standard water test to check other water quality parameters, including:
Bacteria (total coliform and E. coli)
TDS (total dissolved solids)
Testing multiple parameters helps paint a complete picture of your water's quality and determine the best filtration approach.
Water Treatment Options for Arsenic Removal
Removing arsenic from well water requires specific treatment methods. The most effective options include:
Reverse osmosis filtration - RO systems force water through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out arsenic along with other minerals and contaminants. This is one of the most reliable methods for arsenic removal.
Activated alumina filtration - Water passes through a filter bed containing an adsorbent media that binds to arsenic and removes it from the water. Media requires backwashing for regeneration.
Oxidizing filters - An oxidizing pre-filter converts arsenic into a form that's easier to remove by another filtration step like RO or activated alumina.
Ion exchange - Water softeners using anion exchange resin beads can remove soluble arsenic species from water by exchanging them for chloride ions.
No single treatment method removes arsenic completely. Combining methods like oxidation and adsorptive media in a multi-stage system provides the most thorough arsenic removal for well water.
Whole house systems that treat all water entering the home are ideal for arsenic removal. Point-of-use systems like under sink RO are effective for drinking water but don't treat water used for cooking, bathing, etc.
Recommended Whole House Water Treatment Systems
For Tampa Bay area well owners concerned about arsenic contamination, we recommend advanced whole house systems designed to reduce arsenic to undetectable levels at the tap.
Here are some top options to consider:
Multi-stage arsenic removal combines oxidation, adsorption media, and cartridge filtration
Also removes iron, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, and more
NSF certified for arsenic reduction up to 97%
Removes up to 99% of arsenic using membrane filtration
Multi-stage prefiltration protects RO membrane life
Treats whole house including drinking, cooking, bathing, etc.
Combination system - pairs carbon tank, sediment filter, and AquaPure RO system
Reduces arsenic along with a wide range of contaminants
Cost-effective whole house treatment option
Reliable Water Treatment Company in Tampa Bay
At Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions, we've been providing Tampa area homeowners and businesses with water filtration systems to address issues just like arsenic for over 10 years. Our water experts provide:
Water testing and detailed lab analysis
Custom treatment recommendations
Whole house system design and installation
Ongoing service and maintenance
We also offer:
Discounts on multi-system packages
Financing options available
Ensure your well water is safe from arsenic and other contaminants. Get in touch with our water quality specialists to learn more about water testing and treatment options for your home or business.