The Hidden Dangers of Arsenic in Our Drinking Water


We all want to enjoy a drink of clean, delicious water without worry, but for many people that is not possible. Of course, we all know about dirty sources of unhealthy water in the third world, but you may not realize that here in America, we are not entirely safe. There are many contaminants that we need to be aware of, and one of the worst is arsenic. Let’s take a closer look at why Arsenic is so dangerous and how we can remove it from our water supply. The Hidden Dangers of Arsenic in Our Drinking Water

What is Arsenic? 

Arsenic is primarily used as a wood preservative, but it is also used in fertilizers, and animal feeds used on farms. It is a contaminant that can enter our drinking water supply from naturally occurring deposits and/or agricultural and industrial runoff. Another source of arsenic is when deposits underground are disturbed by mining operations causing them to break up and enter the ecosystem. Arsenic can affect human health adversely even at low levels of exposure, so it’s a good idea to remove it from our water supplies. 

Why is Arsenic Dangerous? 

There are both short and long terms effects than can result from ingesting arsenic in drinking water. The short term reactions can present within even a few hours after consumption. Longer term effects may become evident within months or years as chronic disorders. Arsenic has been linked to several physical ailments, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, partial paralysis, skin disorders and in extreme cases even blindness. Arsenic exposure has also been linked by studies to various cancers, such as lung, bladder, kidney, prostate and skin cancer.

As bad as the short and long term health effects are, they are exacerbated because arsenic is so hard to detect. Arsenic has no perceptible taste, color or odor that would alert you to its presence. The only way to be sure that you have arsenic in your drinking water is to have a laboratory test carried out. 

What Limits of Arsenic are Safe? 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a limit for Arsenic that is set at .010 parts per million in potable water. Included in this limit are the organic and inorganic forms of arsenic that may be present. It is estimated that 100 million people, globally are exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic. This is particularly prevalent in Southeast Asia, especially in India and Bangladesh. Even here in America, we have had arsenic outbreaks, the last large one being in 2004 where arsenic was scattered by the wind from a South Minneapolis pesticide plant. The cleanup from this event took over five years to carry out, and over 700 homes were affected. 

If you’re worried that you may have elevated levels of arsenic in your water supply, talk to your local water treatment specialist. There are filtration systems available that will address the problem and improve your water quality. Only contact a water treatment professional that is fully WQA certified as this will ensure that they can meet and even exceed water industry standards.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.

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