Contaminants in Drinking Water Wells

Barium

Barium is a chemical element that occurs naturally in soil, often in low concentrations. It can dissolve in groundwater and contaminate it.
Some foods can also contain low concentrations of barium.

By Québec standards, the concentration of barium in drinking water should not exceed 1 mg/L.

Health risks

Exposure to high concentrations of barium in water can:

  • Increase blood pressure
  • Lead to cardiovascular problems

Persons most susceptible to the effects of barium include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • People with:
  • Kidney problems
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular problems

Protection and Prevention

Your water should be tested for barium at least once during the period of usage of the well, ideally in the spring or fall. If the concentration of barium in your well water exceeds 1 mg/L, use another source, or bottled water, to:

  • Drink
  • Prepare beverages
  • Prepare feeding bottles and baby food

 You can use tap water to:

  • Prepare food
  • Wash dishes and clothes
  • Take a shower or bath

Boiling water is pointless because barium does not evaporate. In fact, doing so can increase the concentration of barium in the water.

You can install a residential water treatment system to reduce the concentration of barium in water to an acceptable level. Be sure to install a certified system that conforms to NSF/ANSI standards and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. If you install a residential water treatment system to eliminate barium from your water, you must verify its effectiveness by testing your water every year.

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