Thomas Co. wells test high for arsenic -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thomas Co. wells test high for arsenic

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Two months ago Hope Williams brought her dog Justice to the vet. Justice was suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea.

When the doctors could not find a reason for the symptoms, they asked if Justice could have been poisoned. "She says well what about your water? Don't know, it seems to be fine but we'll have it checked. And that's how this whole thing got started," said Williams.

Hope and her husband Bart pulled a water sample from their private well and sent it out for testing.

Ten parts per billion is the maximum concentration limit of arsenic the EPA allows for public drinking water. According to the water analysis report conducted by the University of Georgia, the well contained twice the maximum levels of arsenic as set by the EPA.

Thomas County Code Enforcement further investigated by sampling four wells around the Williams property.

The results ranged from 20 to 34 parts per billion. Williams says anyone who gets their water from a well needs to have it tested. "It's not to scare anybody. It's not to send anybody into a panic. Just check. Safeguard your family."

Health officials say if you ingest high levels of arsenic over a short period of time, acute arsenic poisoning can occur.

Chronic exposure can lead to an abnormal heartbeat, gastrointestinal irritation, and skin diseases. "I get these tremendous vomiting spells. Nothing stops it, nothing. And than you switch over to Gatorade and you get off the source and you start to feel better," said Williams.

Williams says she now dumps 30 gallons of fresh water everyday into her tank. She says she will continue to do this until she can find a more permanent solution.

Experts think the problem is naturally occurring arsenic from the bedrock, but the environmental protection division and the department of community health are investigating to figure out why the levels are so high.

The following recommendations regarding filtration to remove arsenic from drinking water are from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension:

If you have tested your water and the arsenic level is greater than 10 parts per billion (ppb), you should re-test to confirm the result before obtaining a treatment system.

When re-testing for arsenic, also test the pH, phosphate, silica, hardness, iron, manganese and sulfate levels. The pH, phosphate and silica levels will help your water treatment professional estimate the life of arsenic treatment media, and the hardness, iron, manganese and sulfate levels will determine whether a pre-treatment step is necessary

Some well water may need to be pre-treated before it goes through the arsenic treatment system to extend the system's life. A water treatment professional can provide information and equipment for pre-treatment. The pre-treatment step is generally recommended when water has one or more of the following test levels:

• Iron higher than 0.5 parts per million (ppm)

• Sulfate higher than 100 ppm

• Manganese higher than 0.05 ppm

• Hardness higher than 300 ppm

Arsenic removal from water requires special adsorption media. Granular ferric oxide, titanium and hybrid media that contain iron-impregnated resin are all highly effective, but there are differences in media life.

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