Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

WQA’s Undesser honored

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

dec2016_undesser_mugWQA Deputy Executive Director Pauli Undesser, MWS, CAE, was recently chosen as a recipient of the Association Forum and USAE’s 2016 Forty Under 40® award, which recognizes 40 up-and-coming association and non-profit professionals under the age of 40. Recipients must demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management and nonprofit industries. Undesser joined the WQA team in 2007 and was named Deputy Executive Director in 2014. Prior to this role, she served as WQA’s Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs and Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) Coordinator. Undesser will transition to her new role in January. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s Degree in biochemistry from Northern Illinois University.

NGWA honorees named

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Former NGWA President Roger E. Renner, MGWC, (President and CEO of E.H. Renner & Sons Inc., Elk River, MN) will be among the first five new Fellows in recognition of outstanding credentials, professional accomplishments and commitment to promoting the increased understanding of groundwater science and water-well system technology. James A. Jacobs, PG, CHG, CPG, CpetG (Clearwater Group, Pt. Richmond, CA) will also be honored with the association’s new Fellow designation. Arthur E. Becker, MGWC, CPG, owner of Drilling and Safety Consultants LLC (Manahawkin, NJ) will receive the 2016 Standard Bearer Award for outstanding volunteer involvement in the legislative process, as well as the Fellow designation. He has served on numerous other association boards, committees and task groups such as the Contractors Division Board of Directors, National Ground Water Research and Educational Foundation Board of Directors, Professional Designations Oversight Committee, Developing Nations Guidelines Task Force and Well Decommissioning Task Group. Leroy Goodson, former Executive Secretary of the Texas Ground Water Association (TGWA) and GM of the Texas Water Conservation Association will be the 2016 recipient of the Special Recognition Award, presented to an individual or organization demonstrating dedication, service and commitment to the groundwater industry through involvement and achievement on a local or regional level. He was made an Honorary Life Member of TGWA in 2008 and received NGWA’s Life Member Award in 2012. Goodson was recognized by the Texas House of Representatives for his service and dedication to water resources of Texas and the nation in 2015.The awards will be presented during NGWA’s 2016 Groundwater Week December 6-8 in Las Vegas, NV.

Arsenic: the Mysterious Metalloid

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

By Greg Reyneke, MWS

Arsenic is an abundant, naturally occurring element that can be found at varying concentrations in the Earth’s outer crust around the world; it is more concentrated in areas where there are copper and lead ores. Possessing properties of both a metal and a nonmetal, arsenic is classified chemically as a metalloid but we usually just call it a metal. Elemental arsenic is a silver/gray solid, but it is rarely found like that in nature; it tends to combine with active elements like sulfur, chlorine and oxygen. Arsenic combined with these elements is called inorganic arsenic. When arsenic combines with carbon or organic ligands, it’s referred to as organic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic compounds (such as those found in water) are highly toxic, while organic arsenic compounds (such as the arsenobetaine found in seafood) are generally less harmful to health.

It is important to understand that arsenic cannot be destroyed in the environment. It can only change its form. Most inorganic and organic arsenic compounds are white or colorless powders that do not evaporate, but can be attached to tiny particles that will inevitably become airborne. When airborne particles are tiny enough, they can stay suspended by air currents for days and travel many thousands of miles from their original point of origin. These particles will eventually hit the ground courtesy of gravity or precipitation (rain, snow etc.). Many common arsenic compounds can easily dissolve in water, so arsenic can get into lakes and rivers, and is certainly not only found in groundwater.

We are exposed to arsenic compounds every single day through fruit juices, vegetables, rice and grains, dust in the air or even by contact with pressure-treated lumber. They usually have no smell and most have no unique taste; one usually cannot tell if an arsenic compound is lurking in food, water or air. Currently, the primary, recognized cause of unintentional arsenic consumption is from drinking groundwater that contains arsenic. Surveys of US drinking water indicate that about 80 percent of water supplies have less than 2 ppb of arsenic, but two percent of supplies exceeds 20 ppb.

An under-appreciated, growing threat

Both inorganic and organic arsenic compounds are metabolized by the human body to varying degrees and some will be excreted in urine. Most organic arsenic is expelled and a large amount of inorganic will leave the body after a few weeks, but some of that arsenic will remain indefinitely. An elevated level of arsenic is believed to interfere with cellular metabolism. Arsenic poisoning produces gastroenteritis, esophageal pain, vomiting and violent diarrhea. Eventually the skin becomes cold and clammy, blood pressure drops and overall body weakness sets in. Death from circulatory failure is sweet release from the convulsions. Large doses of arsenic insufficient to kill will cause restlessness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, chills, cramps, irritability and variable levels of paralysis and neuropathy that may progress over several weeks. Even at extremely low levels, arsenic consumption has recently been linked to the development of diabetes, oxidative stress, DNA damage, skin damage and immune-system malfunction in susceptible persons.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and US EPA have classified arsenic as a human carcinogen. Chronic exposure to even low arsenic levels (less than 0.05 mg/L) has been linked to health complications, including cancer of the skin, kidney, lungs and bladder, as well as other diseases of the skin, neurological and cardiovascular system. Skin absorption of arsenic is negligible; therefore, hand washing and bathing do not currently pose a known risk to human or animal health.

Water exposed to oxygen will generally contain arsenic in the pentavalent +5 (oxidized) state, whereas hypoxic waters (low or no dissolved oxygen) will contain arsenic in the trivalent +3 (reduced) state. Both are quite toxic; the trivalent is more easily assimilated by humans, making it even more dangerous.

Don’t be fooled into believing that only groundwater contains pentavalent arsenic. Some species of bacteria derive energy by oxidizing various materials while reducing arsenates to form arsenites, using enzymes known as arsenate reductases. There are also species of photosynthetic bacteria that can oxidize arsenites into arsenates; remember to speciate whenever practical before attempting a treatment solution.

Setting the limits and balancing cost

The path toward truly reducing arsenic content in drinking water has been slow and tortuous, since it is found in so many places, as well as the significant expense involved in treating it at a municipal level. The first national allowable arsenic level in the US was 0.05 mg/L, as established under the 1975 National Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NIPDWRs). As part of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments, US EPA was directed to conduct health effects and cost-versus-benefit research to determine a new arsenic standard.

In June 2000, the agency proposed a revised arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 0.005 mg/L and requested public comment on alternative MCLs of 0.003, 0.010 and 0.020 mg/L. US EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register in January 2001 (US EPA, 2001), establishing the MCL of arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb (0.010 mg/L). This rule is enforced at over 60,000 community water systems in the US and adherence to the rule is required by most counties for a home to be occupied that is being served by a private water source. According to the USGS, arsenic concentrations exceeding 10 µg/L appear to be far more frequently observed in the western US (including Alaska) than in the east. It is my position that the MCL for arsenic doesn’t represent a safe consumption level but rather a level at which the risk to human health and safety is reduced and economically achievable by municipal water providers. Since arsenic is consumed from so many other sources, one should strive to reduce drinking water arsenic level to zero.

Treatment strategies

US EPA has identified the following as best available technologies (BATs) for achieving compliance with the latest regulatory limit and are listed in the final rule and the Implementation Guidance for the Arsenic Rule as Small System Compliance Technologies (SSCT):

  • Activated alumina (AA)
  • Electrodialysis reversal
  • Enhanced coagulation/filtration
  • Enhanced lime softening
  • Ion exchange (IX)
  • Oxidation with post-filtration
  • Reverse osmosis

In the POE world, the most common methods of treatment include:

  •  Activated alumina
  • Co-precipitation
  • Ion exchange
  • Metal oxide adsorbants (sorbents)
  • Reverse osmosis

First, do no harm

The first rule when attempting to address arsenic contamination is to know and understand your limitations. If you’ve never done this before, don’t rush in and wing it. At the least, you’ll embarrass yourself and at the worst, endanger the health and safety of your customer. Consult with industry experts and equipment supplier(s) to ensure that you always protect your customer and put their needs first.

Testing is not optional

Whenever you are tasked with an arsenic reduction project, test the source water using a reputable laboratory whose data will be accepted by your local regulating agency. Test for the following at a minimum: total arsenic (speciation is preferred), pH, total alkalinity, phosphate, silica, vanadium, selenium, molybdenum, iron and manganese. If there is hydrogen sulfide (rotten-egg odor), then be sure to quantify this for the total oxidative demand calculations.

Developing a treatment strategy

The scope of this article is not to teach you exactly how to do it, but rather to help you understand the treatment paradigm and possibly improve your technique. Some things to consider:

  • All moving parts should be protected by a 100-micron filter at minimum.
  • Arsenic V is easier to address than arsenic III, so the smart decision is to oxidize properly before you do anything else. Various oxidation techniques can be used, such as bulk aeration, ozonation, chlorination, permanganate addition, as well as exposure to an oxidative media like manganese greensand.
  • Once oxidized into mostly arsenic V, adsorbants are currently the most cost-effective method for reducing arsenic in residential and small commercial systems.
  • Always deploy a dual-pass arsenic sorbent technique—plan for redundancy.
  • Anion exchange is an effective technique for dropping alkalinity and reduction of competing ions in the source water that can significantly prolong the service-life of sorbent media beds.
  • Sub-micron post-polishing can be a cost-effective technique.

Whenever possible, pilot-test the proposed treatment approach or at the least, bench-test three times with a miniature mock-up to project the efficacy of your approach. It is so much cheaper and easier to make adjustments to your methodology at this point.

Closing thoughts

Arsenic has always been with us and always will be. As more research data is developed, we are realizing that the only acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water is ZERO. With global climate-change, groundwater resources are strained and underground water dynamics are changing; we don’t have the same water that we used to and probably won’t ever have it again. You need to be prepared to address arsenic in places and at levels that you’ve never had to address before.

Additional reading resources

  1. Flanagan, SV, Johnston RB and Zheng Y. Arsenic in tube well water in Bangladesh: health and economic impacts and implications for arsenic mitigation. 2012. Bull World Health Organization 90:839-846.
  2. Quansah R, Armah FA, Essumang DK, Luginaah I, Clarke E, Marfoh K, et al. Association of arsenic with adverse pregnancy outcomes/infant mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015;123(5):412-21.
  3. Stýblo, M.; Drobná, Z.; Jaspers, I.; Lin, S.; Thomas, D. J. The role of biomethylation in toxicity and carcinogenicity of arsenic: A research update. 2002. Environmental Health Perspectives. 110 (Suppl 5): 767–771
  4. Vigo, J. B. and J. T. Ellzey. Effects of Arsenic Toxicity at the Cellular Level: A Review. (2006). Texas Journal of Microscopy. 37 (2): 45–49.

About the author

Reyneke_Greg_mugGreg Reyneke, Managing Director at Red Fox Advisors, has two decades of experience in management and growth of water treatment dealerships with expertise in residential, commercial and industrial applications, including wastewater treatment. Reyneke also consults on water conservation and reuse methods, including rainwater harvesting, aquatic ecosystems, greywater reuse and water-efficient design. He is a member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee and currently serves on the PWQA BOD, chairing the Technical and Education Committe. You can follow him on his blog at www.gregknowswater.com

Asia: China Brew move a huge success

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Moving to Shanghai has propelled China Brew Beverage (CBB) to a new level. The most important sector event for the beverage and liquid food industry in the Asian region took place in October and for the first time was held in the Shanghai New International Exhibition Centre. Over 53,183 participants and 800 exhibitors took full advantage of 81,000 square meters of exhibition space. CBB 2016 posted a new record in terms of the number of exhibitors from abroad and the amount of space they booked. A total of 265 companies from outside China showcased their offerings to visitors in about 23,000 square meters of space.

Africa: Eneref, CUBO team up

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Eneref Institute announced its collaboration with Environmental Technologies, S.A. (CUBO) to deliver CUBO’s compact modular water treatment system to a Kenyan village as part of Eneref Institute’s Water and Women initiative. The primary focus of the initiative is to publish a series of reports spotlighting technologies that can successfully address the water urgency faced by over one billion women and girls globally.

Europe: RENEXPO Poland a big success

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Great interest in the latest edition of the RENEXPO® Poland trade fair proved that such events are definitely desired in the Polish RES industry. VI International Trade Fair for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency took place in Ocotber in Warsaw. A total of 103 exhibitors took part, presenting their offerings in eight sectors: bioenergy (wood energy, biomass, biogas, biofuels), wind energy, CHP-cogeneration, energy-efficient construction and building renovation, hydropower, heat pumps, geothermal and solar energy.

Europe: Calgon’s Arkema acquisition completed

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Calgon Carbon Corporation has completed its acquisition of the wood-based activated carbon, reactivation and mineral-based filtration media business from CECA. At closing, Calgon Carbon paid €140.7 million ($153.0 million USD) in cash and assumed €6.5 million ($7.1 million) of unfunded pension liabilities. The combined company is expected to be an industry leader in the activated carbon and filtration media market, with enhanced diversification, a strong presence in Europe and an expanded reach into emerging countries. The business will be integrated into Calgon Carbon’s European operations and conduct business under the name Chemviron.

North America: New Canture facility opened

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

dec2016_gs_canatureCanature WaterGroup announced the opening of an additional distirbution facility in Pennsylvania. The 5,000-square-foot facility is located at 56 Lightcap Road, Pottstown, PA 19464.

North America: Angel funds for Great Water Tech

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Great Water Tech announced it will leverage German-tested and proven technology to serve America’s critical water infrastructure needs, after closing a $386,000 seed round, poising it for a significant expansion into the US market place. The technology, Folmar Pipe Protection, is a minimally invasive mineral solution added to water as it flows from the drinking water facility. It provides an ultra-thin liner system, while preventing corrosion and reducing friction throughout the system. The mineral coating separates the water from the pipe, eliminating quality threats such as copper, lead and rust.

North America: ISO certification for Haws

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Haws® announced it has received ISO 9001:2015 certification; organizations are granted a three-year transition period from the ISO 9001:2015 publish date. Haws passed the previous (2008) and current version requirements concurrently. The company’s scope of certification is for the design and manufacture of drinking fountains and safety equipment, including drench showers, hose and spray units, eye/face washes and tempered-water blending systems, as well as distribution of electric water coolers.

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