Fe (Iron)

UNICERT is the leading inspection body in the area of water quality test for Iron (Fe) and objectives to reduce environmental emission/pollution and enhance environmental performance to the society.

Iron (Fe):

Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe (from Latin: ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is by mass the most common element on Earth, forming much of Earth’s outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust. Its abundance in rocky planets like Earth is due to its abundant production by fusion in high-mass stars, where it is the last element to be produced with release of energy before the violent collapse of a supernova, which scatters the iron into space.

Like the other group 8 elements, ruthenium and osmium, iron exists in a wide range of oxidation states, −2 to +7, although +2 and +3 are the most common. Elemental iron occurs in meteoroids and other low oxygen environments, but is reactive to oxygen and water. Fresh iron surfaces appear lustrous silvery-gray, but oxidize in normal air to give hydrated iron oxides, commonly known as rust. Unlike the metals that form passivating oxide layers, iron oxides occupy more volume than the metal and thus flake off, exposing fresh surfaces for corrosion.

Iron metal has been used since ancient times, although copper alloys, which have lower melting temperatures, were used even earlier in human history. Pure iron is relatively soft, but is unobtainable by smelting because it is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities, in particular carbon, from the smelting process. A certain proportion of carbon (between 0.002% and 2.1%) produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron. Crude iron metal is produced in blast furnaces, where ore is reduced by coke to pig iron, which has a high carbon content. Further refinement with oxygen reduces the carbon content to the correct proportion to make steel.

Steels and iron alloys formed with other metals (alloy steels) are by far the most common industrial metals because they have a great range of desirable properties and iron-bearing rock is abundant.

Iron chemical compounds have many uses. Iron oxide mixed with aluminium powder can be ignited to create a thermite reaction, used in welding and purifying ores. Iron forms binary compounds with the halogens and the chalcogens. Among its organometallic compounds is ferrocene, the first sandwich compound discovered.

Iron plays an important role in biology, forming complexes with molecular oxygen in hemoglobin and myoglobin; these two compounds are common oxygen-handling proteins in vertebrates (hemoglobin for oxygen transport, and myoglobin for oxygen storage). Iron is also the metal at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration and oxidation and reduction in plants and animals. Iron is distributed throughout the human body, and is especially abundant in hemoglobin. Total iron content of the adult human body is approximately 3.8 grams in males and 2.3 grams in females. Iron is a critical element in the metabolism of hundreds of proteins and enzymes involved in diverse body functions, such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and cell growth.


Harmful Effects of High Levels of Iron in Water:

Iron is an essential mineral, but when it gets into your drinking water, it needs to be removed. Iron in water has many negative effects; here are the most common ones.

Effects on Your Health

While a low level of iron isn’t harmful in and of itself, iron in drinking water is classified as a secondary contaminant according to the EPA. This is because iron often carries with it bacteria that feed off the iron to survive. These small organisms can be harmful when digested.

In addition, if your iron levels are too high, serious health effects can develop, including iron overload. Iron overload is caused by a mutation in the gene that digests iron; this mutation affects around one million people in the United States.

Iron overload can lead to hemochromatosis, which can lead to liver, heart and pancreatic damage, as well as diabetes. Early symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, and joint pain.

Excessive iron is never recommended for digestion; it can lead to stomach problems, nausea, vomiting, and other issues.

Effects on Your Skin

Water with excessive amounts of dissolved minerals such as iron and magnesium can have negative effects on your skin. They can damage healthy skin cells, which can lead to wrinkles. In addition, water with iron doesn’t blend well with soap. This causes issues when showering and bathing, as soap scum residue will be left not only in your bathtub but on your skin as well. This can clog skin pores, which will lead to a buildup of oils in your skin. This, in turn, can lead to skin problems such as acne or eczema.

Effects on Food and Drink

Water with iron has a metallic taste to it, which makes it very unpleasant to drink. Using this water for beverages such as coffee or tea will create to an unpleasant and dark concoction. In addition, water with high levels of iron is not recommended for your cooking needs. Vegetables and other foods cooked in such water will blacken and absorb a bad taste.

Staining Effects of Iron

Iron leaves residue on anything it touches. If you clean your dishes with it, you’ll get orange or dark red stains on your plates and cutlery. If you wash your clothes with it, your clothes will have dark stains on them. Iron in water can also leave dark stains in your shower, bathtub, and in your toilet and toilet tank.

Clogging Effects of Iron

When water with high levels of iron content flow through your pipes, iron residue builds up inside them. This can cause your pipes to clog up, leading to clogged toilets and sinks and a reduced water pressure in your house. Bacteria that is attached to the iron causes brown slime to build up in your pipes and wherever you have water in your house. A sudden release of the residue in your pipes can lead to a sudden rush of discolored water.

Causes and Solutions

What causes high levels of iron in water? Iron in water often comes from corrosion of underground iron pipes. It’s also more common if you have a private water source, such as a well. Iron from the surrounding soil can seep in when the soil is saturated. The EPA sets the limit for healthy levels of iron as 0.3 mg/L, but even lower levels can cause some of the problems mentioned above. If you have iron in your water, using a water softener is the best way to solve it. Methods such as filtration and an ion exchange are used to clean your water from iron and other harmful substances.


Environmental effects of iron:

Iron (III)-O-arsenite, pentahydrate may be hazardous to the environment; special attention should be given to plants, air and water. It is strongly advised not to let the chemical enter into the environment because it persists in the environment.


Interested Parties including Regulatory Authorities:

  1. Persons affected by Fe
  2. Industries, Laboratories using/ Generating Fe
  3. Mining and Warehouses Containing Fe
  4. Personal and commercial uses of Fe
  5. Private / Govt. Projects to control Fe
  6. Handling and transportation of goods containing Fe
  7. Local Environmental Department/ Authorities
  8. Local Government Authorities like Municipalities, City Corporation etc.
  9. Local Law Enforcing Agencies like Police, Magistrate and Regulatory Authorities etc.

Benefit of Monitoring:

By monitoring long-term contamination trends, every country establishes baseline contamination levels, making it possible for early identification of contamination events. Daily events and long term trends are captured and taken step to reduce environmental emission/ pollution and enhance environmental performance of the society.