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Get Informed | Antimony

What is Antimony?

The name antimony, comes from the Greek words anti (opposed) and monos (solitude), meaning “against being alone”, because antimony is most commonly found in nature in combination with other elements (Source). Antimony is a semimetal. In its metallic form, it is a silvery-white metal that is hard and brittle and in its non-metallic form it is gray. It can be found naturally as stibnite (antimony sulfide) or valentinite (antimony oxide). Antimony is utilized to make alloys that are then used to manufacture ammunition, solder, pipe and sheet metal, lead storage batteries, pigments, fertilizers, ceramics, rubber, textiles, glass, and some polyethylene terephthalate (PET) water bottles. The primary way antimony gets into the environment is the result of a mining or ore processing facility, incineration, fossil fuel combustion, by-product of mining (lead, silver, and zinc), and coal combustion/coal waste, especially fly ash.

Did You Know?
"The ancient Egyptians and the Romans used antimony in the form of stibnite, as a cosmetic and during the Middle Ages as a medicine and in the 17th and 18th century dishware made of antimony was used to induce therapeutic sweating, vomiting, and purging." (Source)

How Does Antimony Become a problem?

High levels of antimony in drinking water can cause vomiting and abdominal pain. These acute effects have also been reported by antimony workers. Stomach ulcers have been seen in animals exposed to antimony in drinking water for several months. Antimony can also cause eye irritation if it gets in the eye. Antimony has been used as a medicine to treat people infected with certain types of parasites. The patients typically receive a number of injections with antimony-containing compounds. Some side effects have been reported, including heart problems, nausea and vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. (Source)

What are the Health Risks for Antimony?

The primary health concerns would include an increase in blood cholesterol, a decrease in blood sugar, decreased infant growth, and irritation of the eyes and skin. Lung cancer has been observed in some studies of workers, and mice breathing (inhalation) high concentrations of antimony. (Source)

Note: "APT (tartar emetic) has been used to induce vomiting in poisoning cases, and antimony compounds such as piperazine antimony tartrate (ATP) were used as drugs against bilharzia (snail fever or schistosomiasis)." (Source)

"Short-term exposure (over days or weeks) to antimony in drinking water at very high concentrations (above 30 mg/L) can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea" (Source).

What are the Standards for Antimony?

In general, the background level of antimony in drinking water is typically "not detectable" or "less than 0.001 mg/L" (Source), but some waters that are influenced by naturally saline water or sulfide minerals may have higher levels of antimony. For drinking water the maximum contaminant level and the maximum contaminant level goal set by the EPA is 0.006 mg/L and the DWEL has been set at 0.001.

One-Day HA: The concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse noncarcinogenic effects for up to one day of exposure. The One-Day HA intended to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day is 0.01 mg/L.

Ten-Day HA: The concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse noncarcinogenic effects for up to ten days of exposure. The Ten-Day HA is also intended to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day is 0.01 mg/L (Source)

Antimony is NOT classified as a human carcinogen.

Get Tested | Antimony

You can not see or smell antimony in water, but in the form of APT it does have a sweet metallic taste. (Source) Emissions of antimony have been associated with mining, ore processing facilities, incineration of waste, metal manufacturing and smelting of ores containing antimony, coal mining and combustion, and fly-ash. From our experience, we have found antimony associated with deep groundwater wells that have sulfur odor issues and where the local geology consists of certain igneous rocks or rocks derived from those igneous rocks, and some metamorphic rocks. It is also sometimes associated with iron and arsenic sulfides and waste rock from gold mines.

"It (antimony) is less common in North America, but large pieces (high concentrations in rock) occur in several mines in the Erskine Creek area near Kernville, Kern Co., California. It has also been found in North America at Arechuyobo, Chihuahua Mexico; and in Canada at Lake George, York Co., New Brunswick; and at the Lac Nicolet Mine, South Ham, Wolfe Co., Quebec." (Source)

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Observations for Antimony

You can not see, smell, or taste antimony in water, but antimony has been associated with a number of activities or conditions. A few warning signs:

  • You have an elevated level of iron and arsenic in your water.
  • Your water has a sulfur or rotten egg smell (hydrogen sulfide gas).
  • You are located near a landfill, manufacturer, mining activity, gold mine, ore processor, coal processing, fly-ash generation / management, or other activity associated with antimony.
  • You are located in a geologic region that is associated with having elevated levels of antimony.
Try Our Level 1 Drinking Water Self-Diagnostic Tool
Have water issues? Answer our self-diagnosis questionnaire from your observations to get an initial diagnosis. Then follow our recommended steps to remediate your issue.
Self-Diagnostic Tool

Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Water Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Antimony

We are not aware of any low cost screening tools or meters for antimony, but you may want to consider some "hair testing" for the presence of antimony and trace metals, conduct a neighborhood hazard report, and conduct a basic in-home water screening test.

Also, because some cosmetics may contain trace metals, we added the book "Healthy Beauty" to the recommended reading section below.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
Recommended Products
Crystal QuestST-CRYS-D-02 | Countertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

Filter WaterST-FILT-F-03 | FW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-uranium">Note: Uranium less than < 0.030 mg/L</div>

Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Level 3 | Informational Water Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Antimony

Most quality informational water testing kits include testing for antimony and other trace metals. We would recommend the National Testing Laboratory Standard Water Kit for private sources or city water if you are not concerned about herbicides and pesticides. If you are concerned about herbicides and pesticides, we would recommend the National Testing Laboratory Deluxe Testing Packages.

If you are looking for a comprehensive assessment of your water for anions, metals, PFAS, Bacteria, Fungi, Herbicides, Pesticides, PCBs, Radionuclides, Synthetic Organics, VOCs, and surfactants, we would suggest the Tap Score Extended Plus water test below.

Level 4 | Certified Water Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 4 Testing for Antimony

If you need certified testing for antimony, it would be advisable to test for a broader range of primary and secondary drinking water parameters including trace metals and general water quality. If you need help with finding a certified laboratory, please contact our team. If the informational testing, baseline environmental database search, and hair analysis suggests a problem (you could be getting the antimony from a source other than your drinking water), it may be advisable to order an EDR Report with Geocheck to compile more background information regarding historic hazards.

Neighborhood Environmental Report

Order a Neighborhood Environmental Report to learn about potential hazards in your community.

Get Treatment | Antimony

It is unlikely that a "city water" source would require treatment for the water to meet the primary drinking water standard, but it is more likely that the user may want to polish the water to further reduce the level of antimony since the DWEL (drinking water equivalent level) is lower than the MCL and the MCLG. For this type of water, it may be possible to use a point-of-use filter to polish the water and provide a final barrier to ensure the water meets or exceeds the drinking water standard. For the small transient non-community water supply or a private well user, it is more likely that the water may have an issue or concern about antimony because the water is not regularly monitored or evaluated for many trace metals. For the smaller water supply systems it may be possible to use an ion-exchange system and coagulation/filtration system, but for private wells the system treatments may include ion-exchange systems or reverse osmosis treatment systems.

Short Term Treatment

If you have a private well source or a community water supply system experiencing a problem with antimony, it is critical to determine if the well has a biofouling problem or has been repeatedly disinfected. It has been our experience that problems with arsenic and antimony can be associated with biofouling problems or repeated shock- disinfections of private wells. Because the primary concern with antimony is consumption, the primary recommendation would be to implement an alternative potable water source or bottled water source for drinking, teeth brushing, and cooking and using the existing water source for bathing and showering. In an emergency, water distillation systems or smaller point-of-use devices can remove antimony from drinking water.

Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Contact a KnowYourH2O recommended professional. Contact Us

Long Term Treatment

To ensure a long-term treatment approach, it is critical to understand the source of the antimony and determine if there are any other water quality or microbiological agents or external sources of contamination impacting or influencing the system. We do not recommend jumping to a solution or a treatment system and we strongly recommend seeking advice from a water quality expert. Long-term treatment for private water systems will most likely include ion exchange and/or reverse osmosis systems.

Contact a Know Your H2O Recommended Professional

Not Up for A DIY? Need Help Identifying a Local Know YourH20Team Professional? Contact Us

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