Despite the best water treatment procedures, contaminants can remain in your drinking water. Arsenic, a semimetal element, is of special concern because many people are unaware of its presence due to its tasteless and odorless nature. However, arsenic in water can cause serious problems from short- or long-term exposure. Here’s what you need to know about arsenic in your water.
Arsenic can cause many different health problems because as it enters the body through drinking water, it is deposited in the body and concentrated. High levels of arsenic in the body can cause central and peripheral nervous system problems. It also causes skin problems, heart and blood vessel problems, and significantly increases a person’s risk of developing lung, kidney, bladder, liver, and skin cancer. It may also cause reproductive problems and birth defects. Children and others with existing health problems are especially sensitive.
Where Arsenic Comes From
Since arsenic is a naturally occurring element, it may enter water supplies through the soil due to natural deposits. Arsenic may also come from industrial and agricultural practices, especially through runoff. It has often been used to preserve wood and is often added to metals, dyes, drugs, soaps, and paints. These common uses of arsenic make it easy for accidental contamination to aquifers and water supplies.
The EPA requires public water systems to keep the levels of arsenic in drinking water at 10 parts per billion or below. Unfortunately, these standards don’t guarantee that other sources of water, like wells, have an acceptable level or arsenic. Filtration systems can remove arsenic from your well water using ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and other filtration methods. The type of filter you need depends on the level of arsenic in your water and if you want point-of-entry treatment to treat all the water in your house or point-of-use treatment to treat just one tap. It’s important to have a full water analysis completed to help determine proper treatment.