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Carbon Dioxide

A new study by Duke University has revealed that leakage of carbon dioxide injected deep underground to help fight climate change is turning up in drinking water aquifers near the surface, spiking the levels of contaminants found in the water tenfold or more in some places.


Governments and industry are turning to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in an effort to prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. CCS captures the carbons produced by oil refineries, factories, or power plants and stores it deep below Earth’s surface, in a process known as geosequestration.

Robert P. Jackson of Duke University points to geological factors that can cause the sequestered carbon to leak into ground water aquifers: “Geologic criteria that we identified in the study can help identify locations around the country that should be monitored or avoided.” Jackson went on to point out that not all CCS storage sites will have problems: “By no means would all sites be susceptible to problems of water quality”.

Contamination in affected water increases because carbons leaking into ground water combine with the water to produce acids. The acid water then eats away at minerals such as iron, calcium and sodium. “We found the potential for contamination is real, but there are ways to avoid or reduce the risk” according to Jackson.

One of the ways to protect oneself from the contamination caused by carbon sequestration is to use a home filtration system from Fresh Water Depot, which can effectively remove the contaminants produced by carbon sequestration. The harmful acid pH of affected water can be effectively reversed by using one of Fresh Water Depots water ionizers. A combination of filtration and water ionization is necessary to remove contamination and raise water pH to healthful levels.

The study collected samples at storage sites that had been exposed to sequestered CO2 for a year. The samples revealed that “there are a number of potential sites where CO2 leaks drive contaminants up tenfold or more, in some cases to levels above the maximum contaminant loads set by the EPA for potable water”. A brief review of CCS sites in the US revealed 11 sites already in operation, and about 20 new sites planned in areas all around the country.

“Along with changes in carbonate concentration and acidity of the water, concentrations of manganese, iron and calcium could all be used as geochemical markers of a leak, as their concentration increased within two weeks of exposure to CO2,” Jackson said. Most of these minerals are associated with hard water, already a widespread problem in the US.

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