Arsenic

Arsenic is a natural element of the earth’s crust. Arsenic can enter water supplies from natural deposits in the earth, but also from industrial and agricultural pollution. It is also created as a bi-product of copper smelting, mining and coal burning. U.S. industries reportedly release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year.

How Harmful Is Arsenic In My Drinking Water?

For over ten years, the National Academy of Sciences has reported that arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and possibly can cause kidney and liver cancer.

They found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems.  It also affects the heart, blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. According to the study, birth defects and reproductive problems area also attributed to arsenic in water.

What Is A Safe Level?

In February 2000, the National Resource Defense Council analyzed data from the U.S. EPA on arsenic in drinking water studies conducted in 25 states. Conservative estimates showed that as many as 34 million Americans were drinking tap water supplied by systems containing average levels of arsenic that posed unacceptable cancer risks.

The EPA has regulated 10 ug/L, however some water still exceeds this level. The level is related to long term exposure and the risks associated at those levels. In this case, assuming a lifetime of drinking water with arsenic, 1 in 500 would contract cancer, as opposed to 1 in 10,000 at levels of 5 ug/L.

Is My Water Checked For Arsenic?

If you are on a public water supply system, arsenic levels are monitored and the reports are provided by law on an annual basis. This does not mean that the levels are below the guideline though. It is estimated that between 1.5 and 2 million people are drinking water with elevated arsenic levels, meaning levels above the 10 ug/L.

If you are on a well, you are the only one that can test your water for arsenic or any other contaminant. Private wells are not regulated or monitored.

Can I Get It Out Of My Water? Are There Treatment Options For Arsenic?

There are several types of in home filters that can be installed to remove arsenic from drinking water. Some use reverse osmosis, ultra-filtration, granular ferric adsorption and ion exchange.  Distilling the water can also be used to remove arsenic.

Please note that boiling water will not remove arsenic. It could increase the concentration of arsenic in your water if you continue boiling and lose a large amount of water as steam.  Chlorine (bleach) disinfection will also not remove arsenic.

If you think you have arsenic in your drinking water, contact one of our specialists to discuss your options.