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What is heavy metal poisoning from water, Health effects of heavy metals in drinking water

Some of the most dangerous chemicals in drinking water are known as 'Heavy metals'. Heavy meatals are chemical elements of the metal family with a specific gravity which is more than 5 times that of water. Some of the toxic heavy metals and their specific gravity are: Arsenic - 5.7, Cadmium - 8.65, Lead - 11.34 and Mercury -13.546. Another definition for heavy metals would be 'metallic elements with high molecular weight'. Water contamination with heavy metals happens when some of these heavy metals are dissolved in water.

If this water is consumed regularly, then it is poisonous to human beings even at very low concentrations. The common toxic heavy metals in water are Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead and Mercury. Lead poisoning was the first cases of heavy metal poisoning that was understood by us. Lead poisoning became very common in the 19th century when lead pipes were in common use for the distribution of water.

Long term effects of heavy metal poisoning

Heavy metals bio-accumulate in the body, that is once absorbed by the human body it is not excreted or removed from the body, but keeps on accumulating in the body as more and more of the heavy metal is consumed by drinking heavy metal polluted water. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals is the main cause of toxicity to heavy metals, because human beings cannot get rid of the heavy metals consumed, which in small quantities are not that harmful.

Heavy metals causes severe damage including cancer, stunted growth, nerve damage, and possibly an early death. Children are the ones who suffer most from heavy metal pollution of water.

Heavy metal poisoning from well water

Heavy metal poisoning from well water became more common after the industrial revolution when industries started disposing of their process water without any treatment. The ground water thus becomes polluted with industrial waste water which can contain heavy metals. Now there are very strict restrictions on the disposal of waste water and the problem is reducing all over the world.

Heavy metal poisoning from well water can also happen due to naturally polluted well water. Acid rain can pollute ground water with heavy metals by making insoluble heavy metals in rocks and soils into soluble salts and release these salts into the ground water. So people drinking well water should be testing for heavy metals in water regularly, since well water can become contaminated with heavy metals just after one heavy rain. How to remove heavy metals from water is discussed in several of our pages dealing with water purification.

What are the most toxic heavy metals in water

These are the most dangerous toxic heavy metal pollutants in drinking water. It is of utmost importance to remove heavy metals from drinking water and how to remove heavy metals from water are discussed in several of our pages on this site.

Arsenic in drinking water

It is very unlikely that the Public water supplies being piped to your homes will have Arsenic in it. People who use well or bore well water have to be extremely careful. They must have their water tested in a good laboratory. Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks, soils, etc. and waters that come in contact with these rocks and soils become contaminated.

Arsenic is odorless and tasteless, so there is no way of knowing if your water is contaminated. Many parts of India have Arsenic problem, so it is highly recommended to test your well and bore well waters once every 6 months. Exposure to arsenic can cause severe damage to health. Arsenic poisoning is cumulative; meaning that even very minute amount of arsenic in the water is accumulated in the body over time. What this means is that the body continues to absorb arsenic without getting rid of any arsenic. If Arsenic contaminated water is drunk continuously, then in a few months or years you become very sick. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the maximum level of arsenic in drinking water should not exceed 0.01 mg/L (10 ppb or parts per billion - a billion is a thousand times smaller than a million or 10 lakhs). So in effect they recommend that it should be zero.

Arsenic can be removed by oxidation with chlorine (Sodium Hypochlorite) or potassium permanganate or coagulation with ferric chloride and then filtering it. Activated alumina and ion exchange resins are also effective. The best choice to purify water containing Arsenic is Reverse Osmosis RO water purifier.

Hexavalent Chromium or Chromium-6 in drinking water

Chromium is actually a micro nutrient required by our body in minute quantity. This form of Chromium is the safe trivalent or 'Chromium-3'. Chromium also exists in another very rare form known as 'Hexavalent Chromium' or 'Chromium-6' which is very toxic for our body.

Hexavalent Chromium-6 is usually introduced into ground water when chemical industries using Chromium, discharge their water without proper treatment. Hexavalent Chromium-6 is poisonous and should be guarded against especially by people using well water. The famous movie "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts, is about Hexavalent Chromium-6 and its poisonous effect on some rural people. The Environment Protection Agency of USA – EPA has set the Maximum Contaminant Level – MCL of Chromium at 0.1 ppm (parts per million).

There are several methods of getting rid of Hexavalent Chromium-6 from water, but the simplest one is to use is an RO filter water purifier. RO water filter purifier for removing Chromium-6 in water is the most effective treatment.

Lead in drinking water

Lead is a heavy metal, and is harmful to health in the same way as mercury. Some of the older pipes and fittings contain lead. RO is effective in removing all heavy metal contaminants. RO water filter purifier for removing heavy metals like lead in water is the most effective treatment.

Mercury in drinking water

Mercury is a heavy metal and its compounds are sometimes found in the natural deposits of certain areas of India. Batteries, fluorescent or tube lights, CFL bulbs, etc. usually contains Mercury and it should not be disposed or thrown on the ground or anywhere near your water supply.

The maximum contaminant level for mercury set by BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), WHO (World Health Organization), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency of USA) and other well-known standards is in parts per billion or ppb. This very small negligible limit for mercury is so set, because it is a highly toxic chemical. Mercury causes kidney damage and also many other ill effects. Activated Carbon filters and RO can remove Mercury from water. RO water filter purifier for removing Mercury in water is the most effective treatment.



How to buy Water Purifiers in India

The best way to buy Water Purifiers in India is to first look at all models of Water Purifiers available online at the leading online Retailers in India. For example on the online webpage of All Water Purifiers available in India on Amazon.in, you will find the full range of Indian Water Purifiers complete with their best discounted price and full specifications. This is great information, and you can decide on which model of water purifier to buy. With the model of water purifier you want to buy finalised, you can go to local shops to try and find the model of water purifier you have chosen and see if you can get at similar price of that at Amazon.in. In most cases the price from Amazon will be cheaper, because they buy in bulk from the manufacturers direct and they sell huge volumes because they are the world's largest and most trusted online retailer. If you buy from Amazon, they will arrange to have the water purifier installed in your house, usually free of charge.

Warranty and other facilities offered through Amazon are usually better than what you can get from local agents of water purifiers.

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