2015/17 – St Lawrence (Queensland) – Selenium, Aluminium, Dissolved Oxygen, Hydrogen Sulfide, Manganese

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St Lawrence – Queensland – Selenium

2015/16: St Lawrence (Queensland) – Selenium 1.32mg/L


“Based on health considerations, the concentration of selenium in drinking water should not
exceed 0.01 mg/L.

Selenium and selenium salts are widespread in the environment. Selenium is released from natural and human-made sources, with the main source being the burning of coal. Selenium is also a by-product of the processing of sulfide ores, chiefly in the copper refining industry.

The major use of selenium is in the manufacture of electronic components. It is used in several other industries, and selenium compounds are used in some insecticides, in hair shampoos as an anti-dandruff agent, and as a nutritional feed additive for poultry and livestock.

Selenium concentrations in source waters are generally very low and depend on local geochemistry, pH and the presence of iron salts. Concentrations in drinking water supplies overseas are generally below 0.01 mg/L but groundwater concentrations as high as 6 mg/L have been reported in the United States.”

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011

St Lawrence (Queensland) – Aluminium

2016/17: St Lawrence (Queensland) Aluminium 0.59mg/L (Highest Level Only)
3 exceedences during year
Australian Guideline: Aluminium 0.2mg/L

According to the ADWG, no health guideline has been adopted for Aluminium, but that the issue is still open to review. Aluminium can come from natural geological sources or from the use of aluminium salts as coagulants in water treatment plants. According to the ADWG “A well-operated water filtration plant (even using aluminium as a flocculant) can achieve aluminium concentrations in the finished water of less than 0.1 mg/L.

The most common form of aluminium in water treatment plants is Aluminium Sulfate (Alum). Alum can be supplied as a bulk liquid or in granular form. It is used at water treatment plants as a coagulant to remove turbidity, microorganisms, organic matter and inorganic chemicals. If water is particularly dirty an Alum dose of as high as 500mg/L could occur. There is also concern that other metals may also exist in refined alum.

While the ADWG mentions that there is considerable evidence that Aluminium is neurotoxic and can pass the gut barrier to accumulate in the blood, leading to a condition called encephalopathy (dialysis dementia) and that Aluminium has been associated with Parkinsonism dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the NHMRC, whilst also acknowledging studies which have linked Aluminium with Alzheimer disease, has not granted Aluminium a NOEL (No Observable Effect Level) due to insufficient and contradictory data. Without a NOEL, a health guideline cannot be established. The NHMRC has also stated that if new information comes to hand, a health guideline may be established in the future.

In communication with Aluminium expert Dr Chris Exley (Professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry
The Birchall Centre, Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire UK) in March 2013 regarding high levels of Aluminium detected in the South Western Victorian town of Hamilton
“It is my opinion that any value above 0.5 mg/L is totally unacceptable and a potential health risk. Where such values are maintained over days, weeks or even months, as indeed is indicated by the data you sent to me, these represent a significant health risk to all consumers. While consumers may not experience any short term health effects the result of longer term exposure to elevated levels of aluminium in potable waters may be a significant increase in the body burden of aluminium in these individuals. This artificially increased body burden will not return to ‘normal’ levels when the Al content of the potable water returns to normal but will act as a new platform level from which the Al body burden will continue to increase with age.

St Lawrence (Queensland) – Dissolved Oxygen

2016/17: St Lawrence (Queensland) Dissolved Oxygen 102.4% (max), av. 90.06%. 1 exceedence during year.

Based on aesthetic considerations, it is desirable that the dissolved oxygen concentration in drinking water be greater than 85% saturation.
No health-based guideline value has been set for dissolved oxygen.
Drinking water will generally contain an adequate concentration of dissolved oxygen; however, under some circumstances the oxygen concentration may be reduced. This may occur, for instance, where water has been drawn from deep storages, where there is considerable growth of microorganisms in a distribution system, or following prolonged periods of high water temperature.
Low oxygen concentrations or anoxic conditions enable nuisance anaerobic microorganisms to grow, producing by-products that affect the aesthetic quality of the water and increase corrosion of pipes and fittings.
There are a number of such nuisance microorganisms. Manganese-reducing bacteria produce black manganese deposits which can slough off pipes and soil laundry. Sulfate-reducing bacteria can produce hydrogen sulfide, giving drinking water a ‘rotten egg’ smell. Nitrate-reducing bacteria can produce nitrite. Iron-reducing bacteria can increase the concentration of ferrous ion in solution which will lead to the deposition of insoluble ferric salts when aeration is increased.
Localised pH changes associated with the growth of nuisance microorganisms can cause rapid corrosion in metal pipes.
Water from groundwater sources will generally have low oxygen concentrations and while this may cause no difficulties for most supplies, some supplies may need aeration to improve water quality (e.g. taste and odour). ADWG 2011

St Lawrence (Queensland) – Hydrogen Sulfide

2016/17 – St Lawrence (Queensland) – 1mg/L 1 exceedence during year

Based on aesthetic considerations, the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in drinking water should not exceed 0.05 mg/L.
No health-based guideline value has been set for hydrogen sulfide, or sulfide, as the aesthetic guideline is considerably below the concentration that would cause health problems.
Hydrogen sulfide is formed in drinking water by the hydrolysis of soluble sulfides, or through the reduction of sulfate by the action of microorganisms. Both processes require anoxic conditions. In well-oxygenated water, sulfide will be chemically or biologically oxidised to sulfate or elemental sulfur, and concentrations are extremely low. Higher concentrations can occur in anoxic water drawn from deep storages.
In water, hydrogen sulfide will be in equilibrium with the sulfide and hydrosulfide ions. The ratio will depend on pH, temperature and salinity. At pH 7.4, about a third will be present in undissociated form, with the remainder present as hydrosulfide. Above pH 10, the sulfide ion will be the dominant form; below pH 5, undissociated hydrogen sulfide will predominate.
Hydrogen sulfide has an obnoxious ‘rotten egg’ gas odour, with a taste and odour threshold of 0.05 mg/L. High concentrations in air can have a deceptively sweet smell and cause ‘olfactory fatigue’ (a deadening of the sense of smell).
Hydrogen sulfide is used industrially in the production of sulfur, sulfuric acid, inorganic sulfides, thiophenes and other organic compounds. It occurs as a by-product in a number of processes including petrol refining, coke ovens, paper mills, iron smelters, food processing and tanneries. It is present in sewers and is a major component of sewage odour.
Data on the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in food are scarce, although a number of foods and drinks are known to contain sulfides.

St Lawrence (Queensland) – Manganese

2015/16: St Lawrence (Queensland) – Manganese 0.5mg/L (maximum)

3 ADWG exceedences.

Manganese: ADWG Guidelines 0.5mg/L. ADWG Aesthetic Guideline 0.1mg/L
Manganese is found in the natural environment. Manganese in drinking water above 0.1mg/L can give water an unpleasant taste and stain plumbing fixtures and laundry.