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Beryllium & Drinking Water

If contaminant levels are found to be consistently above the MCL, your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of beryllium so that it is consistently below that level. The following treatment methods have been approved by EPA for removing beryllium: Activated Alumina, Coagulation/filtration, Ion Exchange, Lime Softening, Reverse Osmosis


How Will I Know if Beryllium is in My Drinking Water?

If the levels of beryllium exceed the MCL, the system must notify the public via newspapers, radio, TV and other means. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.

Beryllium will not enter your body from skin contact with the metal unless the skin is scraped or cut and beryllium particles become imbedded in the wound. Only a small amount of beryllium may enter your body if your skin comes into contact with a beryllium salt dissolved in water. When you breathe air containing beryllium, beryllium particles can be deposited in the lungs. The beryllium that you breathe in slowly dissolves in the lungs and moves slowly into the bloodstream. Some of the beryllium deposited in the lungs can be moved to the mouth and then swallowed; the rest can remain in your lungs for a long time. If you eat food or drink water that contains beryllium, less than 1% passes from your stomach and intestines into the bloodstream. Therefore, most of the beryllium that you swallow leaves your body through the feces without entering the bloodstream.

The small amount of beryllium that moves from the lungs, stomach, and intestines into the bloodstream is carried by the blood to the kidneys. Beryllium leaves the kidneys by the urine. Some beryllium can also be carried by the blood to the liver and bones where it may remain for long periods of time. If you swallow beryllium, beryllium leaves the body in a few days. However, if you inhale beryllium, it may take months to years before your body rids itself of beryllium. This is because it takes a long time before all the beryllium in the lungs enters the bloodstream or is swallowed.


Educate Yourself About Your Drinking Water

EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect and upgrade the supply of safe drinking water. Your water bill or telephone books government listings are a good starting point.

Your local water supplier can give you a list of the chemicals they test for in your water, as well as how your water is treated.

Your state Department of Health/Environment is also a valuable source of information. For help in locating these agencies or for information on drinking water in general, call: EPAs Safe Drinking Water Hotline: (800) 426-479. For additional information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the: Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 535-0202.