Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) of Birmingham, Ala., has consistently achieved the rating of the number-five water system in the United States...
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has awarded Clean Water Testing of Appleton, Wis., expanded NR 149 Certification for their ability to perform almost two dozen additional contaminant tests in the Metals I and Safe Drinking Water categories. Few other laboratories in Wisconsin have achieved this level of testing qualification. The NR 149 certification is based upon DNR inspection and auditing of lab testing capabilities. The DNR oversees state labs and is responsible for enforcing federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements for drinking water supplied to the public. Clean Water Testing was previously NR 149 Certified by the state of Wisconsin for common testing categories. The expanded certification for the lab was made possible through Clean Water Testing’s recent purchase of a new ICP-OES plasma furnace--hi-tech testing instrumentation in the $100,000 price range.
The ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectroscopy) plasma furnace is specifically designed to detect, and verify, the presence of virtually any contaminant element in a water sample. Michael Hanten, Clean Water Center, general manager, states, “The ICP-OES equipment has significantly expanded our lab’s water testing capabilities and allows us to offer the public a more accessible and highly qualified resource to serve their health and safety needs.” In addition, Clean Water Testing’s atomic absorption furnace can measure the amount of specific trace elements in a water sample to less than 1 ppb.
ICP-OES is the foremost process for analysis of contamination in water samples. In the technical ICP-OES process, a water sample is fed into super hot plasma--heated to near 14,000? F. Atoms in the plasma emit characteristic light wavelengths for each element present. Emitted light is then calibrated against scientific standards, providing identification and measurement of contaminants in the water sample.
A recent example of the public’s need for water analysis was the discovery of elevated levels of arsenic at Clayton Elementary School in Neenah, Wis. Facilities offering water from a private well to the public are required by the state of Wisconsin to conduct regular water tests. As a state-certified operator, Clean Water Testing performed these scheduled tests for the Neenah, Wisconsin Joint School District. Using water analysis equipment, such as their atomic absorption furnace and ICP-OES plasma furnace, Clean Water Testing detected a growing level of arsenic. These results led to the decision to temporarily bring in bottled water while a new well was being drilled. Clean Water Testing reports that continuing two-week arsenic baseline testing samples from the school’s new well are within the safe limits of not only the current federal arsenic limits, but also the more stringent, 10-parts-per-billion U. S. EPA Arsenic Rule that will go into effect nation-wide on Jan. 23, 2006.
There are a variety of consumer groups including homeowners, municipalities, and industrial and commercial businesses using wells that are not only required, but benefit, from authoritative water testing and verification. Homeowners and businesses are encouraged by the DNR to annually test well water for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Plumbers, home and well contractors, and real estate professionals are also required to have well water tests performed.
Well water contamination can occur at any time without one’s knowledge. Common causes include a breach of the well or septic system, livestock waste exposure, agricultural and lawn chemicals contact, and naturally occurring elements. Clean Water Testing offers convenient kits to collect water samples for testing. Besides testing for non-organic contaminants such as bacteria, nitrates and arsenic, consumers can request testing for Volatile Organic Compounds (petroleum and solvent contamination), or Radionuclide issues such as radium and radon gas.