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Get Informed | Bromide

What is Bromide?

Bromine is an element. When bromine forms compounds which dissolve in water, it forms the bromide anion (Br–). Bromide is naturally present in the environment, but normally at rather low levels or trace levels in the earth’s crust. In lakes, streams and rainwater away from the coast the normal level of bromide is typically less than 0.2 mg/L (lakes and streams) and <0.01 mg/L (rainwater). When the EPA conducted a survey of bromide levels in drinking water the mean level of bromide was 0.095 mg/L with the highest levels associated with groundwater. Because of saltwater intrusion, groundwater levels of bromide have been reported as high as 2.3 mg/L (bromide in seawater is typically about 67 mg/L). "Man-Made" sources of bromide include potassium mining, fossil fuels (coal), acid mine drainage, coal-bed methane, saline groundwater, brine associated with shale formations, oil and gas brine (up to 1287 mg/L), antiknock additive in leaded gasoline, drilling fluids, flame retardants, agricultural pesticides, some biocides, and is potentially present in some road salt deicing solutions.

How Does Bromide become a problem?

Bromide becomes a problem when it interacts with naturally-occurring organic material and strong oxidizers like ultraviolet from the sun, chemical oxidants like chlorine compounds, and ozone during the disinfection process. "Bromide ion has a low degree of toxicity; thus, bromide is not of toxicological concern in nutrition. Limited findings suggest that bromide may be nutritionally beneficial; for example, insomnia exhibited by some hemodialysis patients has been associated with bromide deficiency (Nielsen & Dunn, 2009)."

Nielsen F.H., Dunn M (2009) Bromine. In: Other trace elements. Bethesda, MD, American Society for Nutrition.

What are the Health Risks for Bromide?

Bromide does not pose a direct risk to humans or the environment, but it can react with other compounds and naturally-occurring organic matter to create brominated organic compounds that do have a health concern. In water treatment (during disinfection), bromide can interact with naturally-occurring organic material in the water and strong oxidizers like chlorine and ozone to create brominated or mixed chlorinated-brominated DBPs (Disinfection By-Products), bromate (BrO3–), some Haloacetic Acids, and some Trihalomethanes.

Bromate - Acute poisoning by bromate causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain, as well as effects on the kidneys, nervous system and hearing loss and it may be a carcinogen (Source). Some of the trihalomethanes have been identified as POSSIBLE carcinogenic (Group 2B) (Source).

What are the Standards for Bromide?

The EPA has not set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for bromide, but the EPA has set MCL and MCL Goals (MCLG) for bromate and other Disinfection By-products. The EPA has set a maximum contaminant level for bromate at 0.010 mg/L, total Trihalomethanes at 0.080 mg/L, and the sum of HAA5 (a group of five haloacetic acids) at 0.06 mg/L. The EPA has set MCLG for chloroform at 0.070 mg/L, bromodichloromethane at 0 mg/L, dibromochloromethane at 0.060 mg/L, bromoform at 0 mg/L, monochloroacetic acid at 0.070 mg/L, dichloroacetic acid at 0 mg/L, trichloroacetic acid at 0.020 mg/L, bromate at 0 mg/L, and chlorite at 0.80 mg/L.

Get Tested | Bromide

At normal levels, Bromide or bromate in drinking water does not impart a taste, color, or other aesthetically-detectable quality to the water, but the presence of bromine (the element) does impart a medicine-like taste to the water. If you notice an aesthetic problem with the water it is likely not because of the bromide level of the water, but because of some other salt or contaminant or a bromide compound like ethylene dibromide (EDB) 1,2-dibromoethane, or methyl bromide which has a sweet "chloroform-like" odor.

Did You Know?
Iodine, a halogen like chlorine and bromine, is also sometimes used to disinfect water. Hikers might carry iodine tablets to add to water taken from a stream. Such hikers would be quite familiar with the iodine taste of such water. Iodine is usually added to table salt to produce iodized salt because iodine is needed by the thyroid to make hormones; iodine deficiency leads to goiter, a condition in which the thyroid enlarges in an attempt to extract more iodine from a low-iodine diet. Iodine also used to be available in drugstores to use as a disinfectant for small wounds. Unfortunately, someone figured out that iodine could be used to manufacture methamphetamine so that was the end of over-the-counter iodine. Although the WHO has provisional guidelines for iodine consumption in food, there are no standards for iodine in water, probably because it is very unlikely that drinking water would have a high concentration of iodine.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Observations for Bromide

You may suspect a problem with a bromide compound for the following reasons:

  • You are drinking water that may be influenced by salt or a saline water source.
  • Your water is being treated or you are planning to treat the water with chlorine or ozone and the source is not regulated.
  • You are in an area where there is oil and natural gas development, coal mining/combustion, brine water management or disposal, heavy use of fungicides that contain bromide, heavy use/manufacturing of flame retardants, or the storage of fuels containing bromide compounds.
Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
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Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself 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 Bromide

Because of the nature of bromide and the number of brominated compounds, there are not a lot of low cost screening test to tests specifically for bromide in drinking water, however there are a number of screening tests for bromine. This test may be suitable if you suspect your drinking water is being adversely impacted by bromine that is being used as a disinfecting agent. If the level is high, it is possible that a pool screening kit would document it or conduct a hair analysis to evaluate your body loading.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Crystal QuestDual Under-Sink Water Filter, 7-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<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>

View
Recommended Products
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-C-3 | CityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-W-2 | WaterCheck Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Crystal QuestST-CRYS-D-06 | Dual Under-Sink Water Filter, 7-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
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>

View

Level 3 | Informational 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.

Level 3 | Informational Water Testing

Many informational water quality tests include bromide as part of the anion analysis. If you are going to conduct this testing, we strongly recommend a comprehensive assessment of the water to include general water quality, metals, major cations, and anions and organic compounds such as volatile organic, Disinfection Byproducts, and Herbicides/Pesticides if you are in an area where these activities may be impacting your water. If you are in an area where natural saline water or seawater may be impacting your water a more basic test for general water quality, metals, and major cations/anions would be adequate.

Recommended Level 3 Tests
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsWater Check Deluxe

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View
Crystal QuestDual Under-Sink Water Filter, 7-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Filter WaterFW-210 Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis System (Code A27AC)

<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>

View

Level 4 | Certified 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 Bromide

Testing for bromide does require a solid understanding of the likely source or sources, this is why we recommend a preliminary screening test and a Neighborhood Environmental Report before conducting certified testing.

Get Treatment | Bromide

As we have previously mentioned, it is unlikely that bromide will be the sole issue with the water and it is more likely that some other contaminant is creating an aesthetic problem with the water. You may be a city water customer that is concerned by Disinfection Byproducts in your water, and it may be necessary to test for bromide because you are considering the installation of a Chlorination or Ozonation system and there is a concern about creating disinfection byproducts associated with bromide. In any case, the first step is always an initial assessment of the problem and concern, a comprehensive water quality test, and an understanding of how you are or could be exposed to bromide and related compounds.

Short-Term Treatment

I would like to repeat the following: "Bromide ion has a low degree of toxicity; thus, bromide is not of toxicological concern in nutrition. Limited findings suggest that bromide may be nutritionally beneficial; for example, insomnia exhibited by some hemodialysis patients has been associated with bromide deficiency (Nielsen & Dunn, 2009)., but this does not mean that your water does not contain another contaminant that can impact your health or the aesthetic uses of your water.

If you are a city water customer concerned about Disinfection Byproducts, the primary recommendation is to review your regulated systems Consumer Confidence Report, to install a point-of-use granular-activated-Carbon Filtration system, and to get a comprehensive water quality test. If you are on a private system and the water has a salty taste, it is possible that your source is impacted by a saline water source. In this case, we suggest a comprehensive water quality check and that you use an alternative water source for consumption. In the short term for low levels of bromide, we might consider a combination of a point-of-use filtration system and a point-of-use Reverse Osmosis system.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<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>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Submit a Request for Consultation with the KnowYourH20 Team. Contact Us

Long-Term Treatment

The selection of the most appropriate long-term water treatment system depends on the form of the bromide and other constituents in your water. Bromide can be removed from water using anion exchange resins, Reverse Osmosis, and Distillation. Bromine and brominated compounds can typically be removed through the use of granular-activated-carbon filtration and nanofiltration. As previously stated, it is likely that the presence of bromide or brominated compounds is not the only contaminant of concern and it is likely that the water treatment system will need to include a combination of pretreatment measures using a whole-house system approach and targeted or point-of-use water treatment devices specifically for drinking water.

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-carbon-filtration">Note: For rural Areas with <a href="/indoor-6/herbicides-pesticides">Herbicides and Pesticides</a> Usage</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<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>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Recommendation: Seek Advice from a Local Professional (Customized Solution). Contact Us

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