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A joint study by AWWARF (American Water Works Association Research Foundation) and the U.S. EPA, POU/POE Implementation feasibility study for arsenic treatment, shows that the use of POU/POE solutions for arsenic removal is both efficacious and cost-effective.
The looming deadline for municipal systems to ensure an arsenic MCL (maximum contaminant level) of less than 10 ppb is a difficult--if not financially impossible--target for small systems across the US.
The report notes that, "the unit costs per household for a central treatment system utilizing the simplest of arsenic treatment technologies... would add $40-50 per month to the average household water bill."
This study found that "POU adsorption units performed well," and, "all of the POE units demonstrated excellent performance." Further, even considering installation and maintenance, the cost per household for POU adsorption was $25/month, for POU RO (reverse osmosis) $28/month.
The researchers found that, "the average breakpoint cost is approximately at 120 connections for POU RO and at approximately 200 connections for POU adsorption."
Despite the new EPA goal of 10 ppb, at two test locations, two of the treatment options tested removed arsenic to below detection limits of <0.002 mg/L--even after 12 months of continuous use.
Since 72% of all U.S. systems impacted by the new arsenic MCL serve fewer than 200 service connections, the impact of POU/POE use for arsenic removal could save billions across the country.
However, as the researchers point out, "Development and implementation of POU or POE treatment programs is complex... involving regulatory, utility, customer, liability, and other issues."
Clearly, this study shows that the use of POU and POE will benefit both consumers and municipal budgets, but much education and cooperation must occur before widespread implementation of POU/POE can become reality.