Barium is a chemical found at relatively low levels in nature, but if it seeps into the drinking water, it can cause a variety of potential health problems. Due to these significant health risks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered all water treatment plants in areas with higher levels of barium to remove its contents from the water prior to releasing it to the public for consumption. There are three major ways that barium makes its way into water sources:
1- Discharge of drilling waste.
2- Discharge from metal refineries.
3- Erosion of natural deposits
Over time, barium can build up in the muscles of the cardiovascular system, which can raise blood pressure and create heart palpitations. This chemical is especially dangerous for those already suffering from major heart conditions.
Barium can be removed from drinking water by one of several different methods, including Reverse Osmosis (RO), distillation, ion exchange filtering, lime softening and electro dialysis. Reverse osmosis works by forcing the water through a membrane that allows water molecules to pass through but blocks larger ions, such as ones associated with iron and barium. In a home setting, reverse osmosis systems are usually small systems (called point-of-use systems) located near the kitchen sink.
Reverse osmosis systems are cost-effective, but they can only produce a few gallons of treated water each day. Furthermore, the taste of the water will be affected by the removal of the minerals. We have residential RO systems available that produce up to 100 gallons per day and will put minerals back to improve water quality. For commercial and industrial customers, look at our list of Commercial Reverse Osmosis Systems.
Distillation systems work by removing the dissolved solids from the water by distillation, and small versions are available that can be placed on a kitchen counter. However, these systems are limited to producing relatively small amounts of water per day. Also, because they use electricity to boil the water, their cost of use is higher than for reverse osmosis systems.
Ion exchange filters work by removing barium molecules by adsorbing them onto mineral particles or resins. This takes place in filter cartridges that may be part of point-of-use systems (near the kitchen sink) or point-of-entry systems that treat all water entering the house. These filters must be replaced on a regular basis, and their performance can be affected by the presence of other minerals in the water. The filters in filtration systems need to be replaced periodically to maintain their effectiveness over time.
Lime softening involves adding limewater (calcium hydroxide) to raise the pH of water. Lime softening is typically used to remove hardness (associated with dissolved calcium and magnesium) from water. As the calcium and magnesium are precipitated out as solids, the barium is removed as well.
Electro dialysis involves forcing dissolved ions to cross an ion-selective membrane using an electrical current. The unwanted ions are then concentrated on the other side of the membrane. Pre-treatment of the water (such as coagulation of small particles, oxidation of iron, and filtering) is usually required for efficient operation.