Is There Asbestos in My Drinking Water?

Is There Asbestos in My Drinking Water?


Asbestos is a word that rightly causes concern for the majority of people, and it is widely understood that it is bad for health. There are specialist companies that remove asbestos; they dress in respirators, gloves, and environmental suits to avoid contamination. Sadly, asbestos has found its way into our public and even private drinking water supplies over the years. Let’s take a closer look at this issue and examine a solution to the problem.Is There Asbestos in My Drinking Water?

What is Asbestos?

Many people are unaware that asbestos is actually a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It is resistant to heat and chemical reactions, making it a seemingly ideal material for applications, such as brake pads, roofing materials, cement pipes and insulation products. In fact, at the height of its popularity, asbestos was used in over 3,000 different products in numerous ways. One of these applications was the water distribution network where pipes made with concrete containing asbestos.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Exposure to asbestos does have negative health consequences, but it needs to be put into perspective. It is important to note that people that are exposed to asbestos for short periods of time are unlikely to experience any health issues at all. The real danger is to people that are exposed to asbestos for extended periods at levels above the Maximum Contaminant Level. The main health problems are lung disease, lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other related conditions. It may take twenty or more years for these conditions to appear after the exposure has occurred.

The Safe Drinking Water Act

This act was passed in Congress in 1974, and it requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine the levels of chemicals that may cause health risk in our drinking water. There are Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) which are non enforceable and set at 7 million fibers per liter of water for asbestos. The EPA has stated that they believe that asbestos exposure at less than the MCLG will not cause potential health problems. Based on this standard, a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for asbestos has also been set at the same level. The asbestos MCL is enforceable, so essentially the EPA is stating that exceeding the MCLG will immediately mean that public water suppliers must take action.

How Asbestos Gets into Our Water Supply

Asbestos fibers can be released from natural sources that are disturbed by erosion, but usually, they originate from the breakdown of materials made with asbestos. It’s estimated that 9 million lbs of asbestos were released into land and water from 1987 to 1993 alone. When the material is washed into the surface water via rainfall, asbestos fibers can be carried over long distances following water currents. Asbestos is also found naturally in groundwater, but these fibers hardly ever move over thousands of years and pose no threat to health.

If you’re concerned about elevated levels of asbestos in your drinking water supply, speak to your local water treatment professional. There are many types of water softeners/water conditioners and filtration systems available to deal with a wide variety of water issues. Always ensure that the water treatment professional you contact has full WQA certification, then you can be confident that the meet and even exceed industry standards.

Contact NicMar Water for your water needs.

About The Author: Mark Williams (NicMar Water President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University. He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)

Back to top

Print Friendly
Nicmar Water
999 Baltimore Road York SpringsPA17372 USA 
 • 800-542-8649

Water Solution Center

Educational Center