Antimony in Drinking Water
Antimony occurs naturally in small amounts in several minerals in the earth’s crust, is used in various manufacturing processes, and is present in plumbing solder. It can enter drinking water as a result of the weathering of rocks and soils, from wastewater from some manufacturing processes or by leaching from solder in plumbing joints. It is estimated that about 1/3 our daily intake of antimony is from drinking water, with the remainder being contributed directly from the air, or through the foods we consume.
What are the health concerns?
The principle health concerns for antimony in drinking water an association with decreased longevity, cardiovascular problems, and altered blood levels of glucose and cholesterol. To minimize the risk of these effects, the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, published by Health Canada, recommend that antimony concentrations in drinking water should not exceed 0.006 mg/L.
The drinking water guideline for antimony is based on life time consumption and short term exposure to drinking water moderately above the drinking water guideline of 0.006 mg/L are not likely to result in any adverse health effects. Furthermore, the risk to human health is through ingestion only and well water with antimony levels greater than 0.006 mg/L may safely be used for bathing, hand-washing, and dishwashing. If your water tests indicated antimony concentrations above the guideline the first step should be to follow-up by re-sampling the water supply to confirm the initial results. If the presence of antimony at levels above the guideline are confirmed you can either treat the water to remove the antimony, or choose an alternate, safe source of water for drinking and cooking.
What are the treatment options?
Antimony can be removed from drinking water by several treatment processes, and homeowners should consult with a reputable water treatment specialist to determine the best equipment for their homes. Some of the more common and effective methods of treatment include reverse osmosis or distillation.
The Department does not recommend specific brands of treatment devices; however, it is recommended that consumers purchase devises bearing a label that indicates it has been certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 58 for Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems or NSF/ANSI Standard 62 for Drinking Water Distillation Systems.
As with the use of any drinking water treatment device, the effectiveness of treatment should be verified by sampling after installation. In addition, it is important to ensure the device is used and maintained according the manufacturer’s directions and its performance periodically confirmed by sampling.
Who can I contact for more information?