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Point-of-Use (POU) solutions can be the most affordable and effective way for water systems nationwide to meet the lower EPA arsenic standards, according to Apyron Technologies, a developer of advanced materials.
Almost 97 percent of the water systems affected by the new standard are small systems that serve less than 10,000 people each. Recently, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) completed an EPA-commissioned cost analysis that stated that POU applications - filtration devices attached under a household's sink to treat the water that comes from the faucet - should be given greater consideration as a method of tackling arsenic contamination. The council's cost evaluations show that communities as large as 10,000 can benefit financially from this approach.
"POU applications, especially high-performance adsorptive technology, will provide individual consumers, as well as small to mid-sized communities, with the most successful and cost-effective way to remove dangerous levels of arsenic from drinking water," says Rom Papadopoulos, chief executive officer of Apyron. "The low cost of treatment is a very small price to pay to ensure that the health of American families is protected."
According to the 2001 National Consumer Water Quality Survey, 9 out of 10 Americans have concerns about the quality of their tap water, and 65% of respondents indicate that they would pay for a home water treatment device to reduce arsenic if it were present in their drinking water.
Although the EPA has now officially issued a new arsenic standard, public water systems will have until 2006 to comply with the new law. Many U.S. citizens will be exposed to high levels of arsenic for another five years, which could potentially threaten the health of many families.
In addition, approximately 40 million Americans obtain their drinking water from private wells. These water supplies are not tested and regulated by the state, and therefore they will not be required to comply with the new standard. Many wells nationwide have extremely high levels of naturally occurring arsenic.
POU treated water is more than 50% less costly than bottled water. Public water systems and individual families that choose POU can obtain a treatment system for as little as $100. Thereafter, the annual cost for operation and maintenance is a mere $30-50 per household.
"Many families nationwide do not want to wait until their local water company complies with the new federal law," says Apyron's Papadopolous. "We have provided hundreds of households, served by both public and private water sources, with affordable solutions that effectively remove even high levels of arsenic up to 3,500 ppb to below detectible levels."
Apyron's award-winning arsenic treatment solutions are in place throughout the U.S., including some of the most affected communities in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wisconsin. This year, Apyron received an Innovative Technology award from the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine for its arsenic treatment technology.
Based on data provided by the EPA, the National Resources Defense Council estimates that as many as 56 million people in the United States drink water with arsenic at unsafe levels. U.S. citizens living in New England and the western regions of the country - especially in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin - are the most affected by high levels of arsenic. Scientists and government agencies have studied the health effects of exposure to arsenic for years. According to a 1999 report published by the NAS, one out of every 100 individuals who regularly drinks water that contains 50 ppb of arsenic will fall ill with a potentially fatal form of cancer. Studies have indicated that children are at a much greater risk than adults.
Non-cancer health effects include gangrene, limb loss, keratosis, neurological effects, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, immunological and endocrine disorders, hematological disorders and reproductive/developmental problems. In addition, arsenic is an accumulative enabler, meaning that people who are pre-disposed to various cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments, are more likely to fall ill.
Studies have also shown that arsenic may pass through the placenta, causing birth defects, and that exposure to it may negatively affect children's intelligence levels and ability to learn.