To combat copper levels in drinking water, Brainerd Public Utilities officials made a change Wednesday in what will be used to treat water.
Instead of sodium silicate, Brainerd water will be treated with stannis chloride, the same ingredient found in Crest toothpaste.
"It's basically tin, injected in a liquid form at one-half part per million," said Walt Sjolund, superintendent of utilities.
Sjolund said Brainerd, in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health, is using stannis chloride as part of a pilot study to determine its effectiveness. The study will last six months.
The need for the stannis chloride is because copper levels in Brainerd water have surpassed the amount allowable by the Environmental Protection Agency. Brainerd is at 23 hundred parts per billion; the EPA's allowable limit is 13 hundred parts per billion.
Sjolund said there is no health risk from either the stannis chloride or the current copper levels, which he said aren't too high.
"The EPA has their standards, but I'm not sure what the science is behind it," he said.
According to the Brainerd Public Utilities Web site, copper can cause corrosion of household plumbing systems, erosion of natural deposits and leaching from wood preservatives. If consumed in excess copper can cause several health problems. Short-term effects can include gastrointestinal problems. Long-term effects could be liver or kidney damage.
In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems.
The Web site further states drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk.
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