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The impact of Iron in Water

  • What is iron?
  • How does iron get into water?
  • How does iron affect my health?
  • Other Considerations
  • How to remove iron from my drinking water?

What Is Iron?
Iron occurs naturally in soil, sediments and ground water and can be found in many types of rocks. Iron can be present in water in two forms; the soluble ferrous iron or the insoluble ferric iron. Water containing ferrous iron is clear and colorless, and when exposed to air the water turns cloudy causing a reddish brown precipitate of ferric iron appears.
Iron is an essential trace element for maintenance of energy metabolism and the prevention of iron deficiency anemia. It can be found in food, such as eggs; lean red meat; and beans, peas, and other legumes.
How Does Iron Get Into Water?
Iron exists naturally in rivers, lakes, and underground water. It may also be
released to water from natural deposits, industrial wastes, refining of iron ores, and corrosion of iron containing metals. The combination of naturally occurring organic material and iron can be found in shallow wells and surface water. This water is usually yellow or brown but may
be colorless.
How Does Iron Affect My Health?
Iron is an essential nutrient for good health. It is a major component of
hemoglobin, which is used to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Iron deficiency can enhance lead absorption and toxicity; anyone with increased blood lead levels should be tested for iron deficiency.
The ingestion of large quantities of iron can damage blood vessels, cause
bloody vomitus/stool, and damage the liver and kidneys, and even cause death. However, because ingestion is regulated, body tissues are generally not exposed to high-level concentrations.

Other Considerations
Before you attempt to remove anything that appears to be iron-related, it is
important to have your water tested. Once you determine whether you organic or inorganic iron in your water, you can take steps to correct the problems.

Iron bacteria flourish best under dark conditions and in waters containing
dissolved iron and carbon dioxide. It can clog pipes and screens, and can leave brownish stains on laundry, reddish-brown particles on fixtures, and can cause an unpleasant taste and odor in water.

How Can I Remove Iron From My Drinking Water?
The basic approach to remove iron is to convert the soluble or dissolved forms of iron into insoluble or precipitate forms so that they can be filtered out. This is done by oxidation with a chemical such as chlorine prior to filtration. Other methodologies such as ion exchange (eg. greensand filtration) or reverse osmosis may be effective.

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