Benzene Water Filtration

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Benzene Water Filtration

Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid. It is produced from both coal and petroleum sources and is naturally present in crude oil. Benzene is used as a gasoline additive at 1 to 2 percent by volume to increase the octane rating. The greatest use of benzene is as a building block for making plastics, rubber, resins and synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Other uses include: as a solvent in printing, paints, dry cleaning, etc.

The major sources of benzene in drinking water are discharge from factories and leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills. Benzene released to surface water rapidly volatilizes to air. However, benzene that enters groundwater degrades much more slowly.

Everyone is exposed to a small amount of benzene every day. You are exposed to benzene in the outdoor environment, in the workplace, and in the home. Exposure of the general population to benzene mainly occurs through breathing air that contains benzene. For most people, the level of exposure to benzene through food, beverages, or drinking water is not as high as through air. Drinking water typically contains less than 0.1 ppb benzene. Benzene has been detected in some bottled water, liquor, and food. Leakage from underground gasoline storage tanks or from landfills and hazardous waste sites that contain benzene can result in benzene contamination of well water. People with benzene-contaminated tap water can be exposed from drinking the water or eating foods prepared with the water. In addition, exposure can result from breathing in benzene while showering, bathing, or cooking with contaminated water.

Benzene in water and soil breaks down more slowly. Benzene is slightly soluble in water and can pass through the soil into underground water.

Health Effects

Benzene can be toxic by ingestion, inhalation, and through the skin. Studies indicate benzene is absorbed most efficiently by ingestion (close to 100 percent), followed by inhalation (50 percent) and, to a lesser extent, through the skin. Benzene is not stored in the body for long periods. Within 48 hours after exposure, most of the benzene or the chemicals that it has been changed into have left the body.

Some people who drink water containing benzene well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience anemia or a decrease in blood platelets, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

How Do I Know if Benzene is in My Drinking Water?

When routine monitoring indicates that benzene levels are above the MCL (maximum contaminant level), your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of benzene so that it is below that level. Water suppliers must notify their customers as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the system learns of the violation. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.

If your water comes from a household well, check with your health department or local water systems that use ground water for information on contaminants of concern in your area.

How Can I Get Rid of Benzene in My Home’s Water Supply?

Benzene requires a specific treatment process for removal from water. Well owners can use granular acti­vated carbon or charcoal to remove benzene from their water. Activated charcoal or granular activated carbon filters used to improve the taste or remove odor of the water also can remove some contaminants in water supplies. These filters are effective in removing benzene, as well as vola­tile organic compounds (VOCs), which easily vaporize into the atmosphere under normal conditions. A typical water softener will not remove benzene from water.

In the home, granular activated carbon filtering sys­tems are usually installed where the treated water will be used for drinking or cooking. Refrigerator filters typically filter out benzene as well. Most systems contain a bypass so water used for purposes other than drinking and cooking may be dispensed without being treated, thus extending the life of the filters.

eFilterWater offers solutions for removing benzene from your home's water supply, including replacement filters for under-sink filtration systems and replacement refrigerator filters. If you need more assistance finding the right home water filtration system to eliminate benzene from your home's water supply, contact one of eFilterWater's Certified Water Specialists at 800-779-1340. They will be happy to assist you!
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