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Duncannon Borough: Water system’s arsenic levels exceed standards, but there is no emergency

DUNCANNON, Perry County — The Duncannon Borough notified residents in a Facebook post Thursday that its water system recently violated a water testing standard, exceeding the maximum contaminant level for arsenic.

The standard for arsenic is 10.0 ppb, the borough said. The borough’s water system tested at 10.6 ppb.

There is no emergency or immediate risk, according to the announcement. There is no need to boil water or take corrective actions. Those who have compromised immune systems, infants, are pregnant, or are elderly should seek advice from healthcare professionals about drinking the borough’s water until the problem is corrected, the announcement said.

According to the borough announcement, those who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard over many years could develop skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may be at an increased risk of getting cancer.

The borough is working with the Department of Environmental Protection to increase the frequency of arsenic tests in the water supply and to correct the issue.

Duncannon anticipates resolving the problem “within a reasonable timeframe.” The borough says it is working with the DEP to reduce the arsenic levels.

The Department of Environmental Protection release more information on the borough’s violation:

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance. The MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) is 10 ppb (parts per billion). Three sites were sampled on 8/15. Two sites were below the MCL (4.3 and 4.4 ppb). One site exceeded the MCL (10.3). Compliance is based on the average of the original and a check sample. A check sample was taken 8/30. It was 10.6 ppb—average 10.5. An arsenic result over the MCL requires a Tier 2 Public Notice. Duncannon had 30 days to notify the public. They are within that time frame.

Duncannon was on triennial sampling based on results from 2012 and 2015 being below the MCL. This is the first time that site exceeded the arsenic MCL. Quarterly monitoring will now be required at the site. A look at the sampling history shows that levels can vary over time.  If there is another exceedance, Duncannon may have to install arsenic removal treatment, blend that source with another to attain lower levels, or abandon that site as a source. Because arsenic is naturally occurring, Duncannon will not be fined, but will be issued a Notice of Violation for the exceedance.