Advice on removing arsenic and radon

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Mike D, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. Mike D

    Mike D New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2021
    Location:
    Newburyport MA
    Long time lurker, first time poster

    I’m a homeowner, with a well, in need of a new softener and filtration system. I currently have a ~20 yr old softener that I’m going to replace. Location: Newburyport (border of MA and NH, seacoast) zip 01950. 4 bathroom house.

    I've tested the water annually in the few years we've lived here, and the numbers appear relatively stable. Based on the water sample (last week's untreated water analysis is attached), my biggest concerns are arsenic and radon, plus lowering hardness. There may have been a sulfur smell (noticed one day before we moved in when there was no salt in the brine tank). I'm new to this though, is there anything else from the analysis to be worried about?

    I’ve spoken to three local companies for quotes, and I’ve received three different ways to solve the arsenic + radon problem.

    Company 1: aeration + Entipur 6T75-2M softener
    Company 2: carbon adsorption + Kinetico 2030s twin tank softener
    Company 3: R/O (2 faucets + fridge) + either an Avantapure 435 or EcoMax softener

    Prices are in the $5k-8k range.

    There seems to be no consensus from the companies on how to solve the problem, other than the acknowledgement that if it doesn’t completely work they can always install something else too. Will all of the methods reduce radon and arsenic down to zero? I can't make sense of it.

    Alternatively, rather than using a dedicated water company, I can use my plumber and ask them to install anything we want him to. Seems fleck is one of the more popular brands on the forums for a softener.

    I’m looking for help making a decision on the right system for us. Any help is appreciated!

    Thanks very much!

    water-report.jpg
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    That's big.

    You understand that all of your levels for the things that you plan to treat are well under the suggested health levels.

    You did not mention softening. Assuming your water is hard, I think a softener feeding a good RO should do it for you. A backwashing catalytic carbon tank of some sort before the softener would probably remove the Rn and in the presence of your iron, the arsenic. My backwashing Centaur Carbon removed my low level of arsenic as it removed my iron. My system doses the media with a bleach solution during regeneration, and that gets rinsed out before the tank goes back into service.

    I am not a pro.
     
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  4. gsmith22

    gsmith22 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Location:
    Central NJ
    1. To echo Reach4, you don't actually have an arsenic problem with respect to EPA limits and radon isn't regulated (yet) at the EPA level although a lot of states in the NE do set limits (MA's limit is relatively high for the NE states and EPA's proposed limit is much lower but still well above yours). But I can also get on board with wanting to reduce potential problems.

    2. I think part of the reason for the divergent solutions is the "lack" of a problem without clear goal since you are effectively below what would be the goal (EPA/state limits).

    3. Since you are really trying to enhance what is already decent water and to keep it simple, I would use a backwashing carbon tank to handle both arsenic and radon and then a softener for hardness at the whole house level (sort of mirroring contractor #2 although not sure you need a twin softener).

    4. If you had above EPA/state limit levels of arsenic, radon, or both, then carbon may not be the best treatment method for either or both. Aeration is best for radon and carbon is a decent second for moderate and low levels; and there are a variety of ways to treat arsenic well (oxidation+filtration, adsorption media, ion exchange, RO). But you don't actually need the best for each if you are just looking to reduce what is already low levels. So I think simpler is better here which is why I recommed carbon.

    5. RO seems like a waste and would only be useful if you wanted essentially nothing left in the water. But that isn't good either (for you or your pipes) so I would make sure to remineralize if you go this route. Plus, this is an individual faucet/sink level solution. you would still want a softener on the whole house feeding everything including the individual sink/faucet ROs.

    5. If I had to guess, contractor #1 treats radon a lot (why they are aerating when it isn't needed) and they don't address arsenic at all. Contractor #3 either doesn't know what to do or is just erring on the side of caution so you won't be disappointed if "everything" isn't removed from the water. Contractor #2 may have just gotten lucky or listened but I would query this board about softener sizing because it would be rare that someone needs a twin softener for residential use.
     
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Your levels look great, your water is good and easily treated. Since you have a system in place were you planning on doing the installation yourself? A simple properly sized backwashing carbon tank (catalytic would be preferred), with a softener. A drinking water RO would be fine if you want to reduce the arsenic and other contaminants in the water. Whole house arsenic reduction would be a little overkill for this water in my opinion. Carbon easily reduces radon as does aeration. Carbon backwashing units are very simple, not a lot to go wrong.
     
  6. Mike D

    Mike D New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2021
    Location:
    Newburyport MA
    Thanks all for the help!

    To answer a few questions and ask some more:

    Glad to hear that $5-8k sounds overkill!

    Yup, I know the current arsenic and radon levels are lower than the state imposed limits. I’m a new parent and any arsenic or radon levels sound a little scary. Plus, I’ve seen a few of my neighbors' arsenic numbers climb over the EPA limit, and I’m looking to future proof a bit.

    Yeah, contractor #2 only sells Kinetico, and I believe they only offer twin tank softeners. The benefit of the twin tank is lost on me, we’re not a big family and I have no issue scheduling a regeneration during the night. They claimed it was better for the media, but I know some companies offer lifetime warranty on the media.

    Contractor #3 had mentioned a carbon adsorber as an option for $2k, but the downside was a $400 fee to replace the carbon media, which had to happen every few years. Is that right?

    I wasn’t planning on doing my own installation, but the more I read this forum, the more likely I’ll be in doing it. I was hoping to establish a relationship with a contractor I can call on the weekend to say “help, something broke!” I was also hoping to not get taken advantage of, and well the quotes kind of say otherwise. So perhaps doing the install myself makes some sense (and saves some cents).

    As far as choices for catalytic backwashing carbon tank, any recommendations? Same for the softener?

    As far as sizing -- I’m not exactly sure how wide my house’s main line is, but every contractor recommended all of the equipment to be 1”, so I’m guessing that’s the right size. I’ve been assuming I’m looking for something in the 15-20gpm range? (one bathtub has a 14.5gpm filler, 4 bath house, 2 adults + 2 little ones) My current ancient softener one contractor said was 8-10gpm, and I know the water pressure is a little low.

    There had been a lot of recommendations for Fleck softeners.

    Here’s a carbon tank from them https://www.flecksystems.com/fleck-systems/fleck-2510-sxt-backwashing-granular-activated-arbon-filter.html

    But it doesn’t say the word “catalytic”, so maybe that’s not the right thing? Help :)

    And here’s the corresponding softener:
    https://www.flecksystems.com/fleck-...rs/fleck-2510-sxt-metered-water-softener.html

    Thanks again!
     
  7. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I would avoid most of the online sellers. The 2510 is a decent valve, a bit dated and it has a few quirks that I am not too thrilled with.
     
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