Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic is an element found in the Earth’s crust, and it finds its way into food, water, soil and air. Environmental levels of arsenic vary. In air, arsenic is found in higher amounts in urban areas. In soil, the levels of arsenic are higher in areas that contain volcanic rock.

It is present in nearly all household water, and most prevalent in well water.

Arsenic is a poisonous substance which also has chronic toxicity and it is a human carcinogen. While conventional wisdom holds that arsenic does not cause acute symptoms unless and until very high levels are reached, many scientists believe and practical wisdom shows that many people exhibit signs of acute toxicity well before the level deemed unsafe. Researchers now believe that arsenic is an extremely versatile poison, able to cause damage at even low dose exposure.

Chronic low-dose exposure has been implicated in:

  • Respirator problems in children and adults
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers of the skin, bladder, and lung
  • Interfering with tumor suppressing glucocortoid hormones
  • Interferes with proper function of immune cells
  • Damages lung cells
  • Causes inflammation of cells in the heart

Yet millions of Americans have no idea that they are consuming any of these toxins at all.

Arsenic Levels in Drinking Water

Arsenic was not really on the collective radar until fairly recently when areas of particularly high levels of concentration such as Bangladesh started experiencing widespread health concerns and researches organized a long-term study of its effects. As studies shed new light on the effects of arsenic, more and more people started to take the problem more seriously.

In 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considered tightening the drinking water standard for arsenic — then at 50 parts per billion — to as low as 3 ppb. But it didn’t.

From the EPA Website:

“The MCLG for arsenic is zero. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. Based on the MCLG, EPA has set an enforceable regulation for arsenic, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 0.010 mg/L or 10 ppb. MCLsare set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies.”

Ultimately, because of the cost of regulation and filtration, the limit was set to 10 ppb.

Reducing Arsenic Intake

One of largest contributors of arsenic is through cigarette smoke, so if you smoke, consider quitting. Since other environmental factors vary dramatically, it is nearly impossible to control them or their effects.

One of the most helpful ways to reduce arsenic intake is by learning about the arsenic levels in the water entering your home. Federal law requires that information be available to water utility customers and that the information be disclosed annually. The next step is to e proactive and use a water filtration system to ensure that the water entering your home is the safest levels possible.

It is important to remember that the EPA standard of 10 micrograms per liter were never claimed to be a safe level. The standards set by the EPA take into account the health effects of a toxin, but also the costs to mitigate them.

If you have concerns about your water, call Nuvia Water today for a free water test: 1-800-838-0028


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