Lithium in Drinking Water and Brine Water Marcellus
The Water Research Center is a strong supporter of environmental education and the company feels privileged to make available this informational fact sheet for free as a means of environmental education, awareness, and outreach. In partial fulfillment of that obligation we are proud to make this report available to YOU. There are a number of contaminants that threaten the safety and quality of our nations drinking water, but none is more misunderstood than lithium and barium.
For drinking water, there is no current EPA or Pennsylvania maximum contaminant level set for lithium. The EPA has established an estimated limit of 0.70 mg/L and a provisional chronic oral reference dose of 20 ug/kg/day. This reference dose was derived from a review of the available data related to the lowest observable effect level of 20 mg/kg/day that was observed in long-term studies and treatment of humans using lithium.
Lithium is in the alkali-metal group that includes sodium and potassium. Lithium is used in batteries, ceramics, air-conditioning, grease, electric cars, and in pharmaceutical products. Lithium is a soft, silver-white alkali metal, found in some foods and, in some places, the drinking water. Lithium can be found throughout the world, but brine waters contain up to 0.050 to 2000 ppm, seawater up to 0.170 ppm, and freshwater typically less than 0.001 to 0.003 ppm and daily lithium content from food has been estimated at 2 milligrams per day with the primary source being grains and vegetables. Lithium can be found in continental brine water, geothermal waters, and oil-gas field brines. In addition, granitic and igneous rocks may have elevated levels of lithium. The body processes lithium through the kidneys or in our excrement. Locally, it appears that the groundwater in Northeastern Pennsylvania may have a lithium content ranging from < 0.2 mg/L to 0.24 mg/L.