Water contamination at source and supply is a common, yet grave problem that has been plaguing the world for decades now. While the repercussions are worrying enough, the lack of state action and public awareness elicit greater concerns.

According to the Center For Diseases Control and Prevention, the US boasts one of the safest drinking water systems in the world. Yet, the number of illnesses and infections attributed to public drinking water systems climb up to millions; a  stark contradiction to the claim.

A recent report by Reuters demonstrated how the manmade ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating potable water in the US. You must have come across several similar reports every day. However, this greater emphasis on manufactured contaminants is stealing the limelight from the persistent and gravely toxic, naturally occurring contaminants like arsenic.

Young female scientist collecting water sample from sea.  Researchers are at beach during medical test. They are in protective workwear.

According to a practical study conducted by the United States Geological Survey, Arsenic was detected in about half of the sampled wells — one of the major sources of drinking water for the population. What’s more alarming is that about 7% of these wells recorded a potentially hazardous concentration of arsenic in the water.

To understand the complete scope of the problem, we have shed light on how arsenic in well water can affect us, our health, and how we can prevent it.

How Does Arsenic Get In Drinking Water?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element generally found in rocks, soil, and stones. It forms the basic composition of our earth’s crust which makes it practically unavoidable. Arsenic’s substantial applications in various industries and agriculture, especially in the form of insecticides and fertilizers contribute heavily to the increased concentration of the element in the soil.

Besides being pumped out as effluents, the main cause of arsenic entering our drinking water is seeping. In natural water bodies, it seeps into the water through soil and rocks.

These rocks dissolve to further release large amounts of arsenic into the environment. The particles thus released are persistent, and often precipitate in the form of rain or snow. As a result, even the water bodies that are naturally low in arsenic concentration end up recording higher contamination.

What level of arsenic is safe in drinking water?

More than what we eat, we are what we drink. This means the more water we drink, the more we consume contaminants like arsenic.

The good news is that the national permissible value of arsenic is lowered to 10 ppb. Neither the industrially pumped arsenic nor that occurring in well water reaches our taps in dangerous concentrations.

The bad news is that arsenic is persistent, as discussed earlier. This means it stays in our bodies and long term exposure can cause serious repercussions.

Long-Term Health Effects Of Drinking Water With Arsenic.

An arsenic poisoning can present itself in the form of mild symptoms like headache, confusion, and drowsiness as well as severe ones like diarrhea, convulsions, and blood in the urine. However, this kind of poisoning is generally triggered when a person is suddenly exposed to higher concentrations of the toxic element.

Chemistry and science

When consumption or exposure to lower concentrations is consistent, it poses high health risks. It can affect our skin, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and even neurological systems. Neuropathy is in fact a common problem found among miners and smelters who are constantly involved with arsenic. Paralysis, liver disorders, and cancer are also widely observed as serious long term health implications of arsenic consumption.

How Can We Prevent And Solve The Problem Of Arsenic In Water?

With health implications as drastic as these, neglecting water treatments and purification is not an option, especially if your potable water source is a local well. Although there’s little that can be done to control the contaminant at the source, you can always filter and treat your water at home.

Arsenic is not a viable impurity that can be killed or eliminated by boiling or bleach-based disinfecting the water. Higher-order filtration techniques, however, can prove to be immensely helpful.

You can either opt for techniques like lime-based coagulation, reverse osmosis, ion exchange, distillation, or go for an easier alternative of specialized arsenic filters available in the market. These filters are generally designed to employ one of the above-mentioned techniques and can filter water right at the faucet to save you the water handling hassles.

Regardless of the technique that you go for, what’s ultimately important is keeping your water source’s health in check. Also remember to make sure what you consume believing to be purified, is pure in the true sense.

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  1. Sue

    Your style is very unique compared to
    other folks I have read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

    • Laura Acoga MD

      I appreciate you like these articles; I try to do my best to deliver up-to-date and exciting content consistently. Any suggestions in terms of topics are always welcomed. Have a lovely weekend!

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