Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless semi-metal element that is abundant in the Earth’s crust and atmosphere.
About one-third of the arsenic in drinking water comes from the erosion of deposits in the earth, while the rest was added through agricultural and industrial runoff and emissions.
What is arsenic and where does it come from?
Arsenic is a toxic element that occurs naturally in the environment. It can be found in soil, rocks, and minerals. Arsenic cannot be destroyed; it can only change its form. In the natural environment, arsenic combines with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur to form inorganic arsenic compounds. Inorganic arsenic naturally occurs in the earth’s crust and soil in a wide range of concentrations. Arsenic absorbed or ingested by animals and plants combines with carbon and hydrogen to form organic arsenic compounds.
Arsenic is also a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities. Inorganic arsenic compounds are used as preservatives, mainly in wood. Some organic arsenic compounds are used as pesticides, primarily on cotton fields and in orchards.
How does Arsenic get in our water?
Arsenic may enter the air, water, and land from wind-blown dust. It can enter drinking water through the ground or as run-off into surface water sources. Many common arsenic compounds can dissolve in water. Most of the arsenic in water will ultimately end up in soil or sediment.
What are the health effects of Arsenic?
Arsenic has been identified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Exposure to arsenic at a concentration of hundreds of micrograms per liter (µg/L) in the drinking water has been associated with lung, bladder, liver, and skin cancers in Taiwan, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Bangladesh, and India. Other adverse health effects of arsenic include nausea, cardiovascular disease, developmental and reproductive effects, diabetes, and skin keratosis and hyperpigmentation.
Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of EPA’s standard over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
The short term effects of Arsenic exposure may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Long term exposure to Arsenic is quite severe. Partial paralysis, numbness in hands and feet, blindness, lesions, thickening and discoloration of the skin are all very common.
Arsenic attacks the body’s cells and can lead to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidneys, nasal passages, liver and prostate
How much Arsenic is allowed in drinking water?
Since 1977, the maximum concentration level (MCL) of arsenic allowed in drinking water was 50 micrograms (or 0.05 milligrams) per liter. In 2001, US EPA reduced the MCL to 10 micrograms (or 0.010 milligrams) per liter (µg/L). Water systems were required to comply with the new rule by 2006. The US EPA has also set limits on the amount of arsenic that industrial sources can release into the environment and has restricted or stopped many of the uses of arsenic in pesticides.
Compliance with the arsenic MCL is based on samples taken by water systems over a 9-year period (2002-2010). The frequency of sampling depends on the water sources and ranges from yearly to once in 9 years. If a sampling point exceeds 10 µg/L, that point is then sampled quarterly, and the running annual average is used to determine compliance. MCL violations before and after the change in this rule are not comparable, which means violations prior to 2006 can not be compared to the ones after January 2006.
How do I know if there is Arsenic in my drinking water?
Overall, based on the current understanding of the health effects of arsenic, the potential for adverse health effects from drinking water exposure to arsenic in the United States is generally very low for most community water systems.
If your water comes from a municipal or privately-owned water company that meets the definition of a community water system, they are already testing for arsenic in your water.
If you have your own household water supply (well water), you are responsible for maintaining and testing it. Contact your local health department to find out whether arsenic is a contaminant of concern in your area.
You may consider having your water tested by a certified lab and installing a home treatment device that can remove arsenic.
How is Arsenic Treated or Removed?
Your first step should involve having a Qualified The Better Water Co. Technician perform a professional WATER TEST to determine the overall quality of your water. During The Better Water Co.’s analysis, a sample can be collected and sent to a State Certified Lab to accurately measure the Arsenic levels in your water.
AS3 can be converted into AS5 in the presence of an effective oxidant such as free chlorine. Iron Filtration Systems that use a Constant Chlorine Feed can effectively reduce Arsenic throughout the entire home.
New, specialty Arsenic Filter Medias have become available to treat both AS3 and AS5. While these medias are efficient at removing Arsenic, care must be taken to ensure they are not damaged by other elements in the water like iron, tannins, or hydrogen sulfide.
For you drinking water its highly recommended to used The Better Water Co. advance Reverse Osmosis or our state of the art premium Alkaline ionize system using a certified membranes