Arsenic

The word ARSENIC, is all you have to say and people know it is bad! The fear is automatic. We have hall heard about it on the news and/or from our parents as children. The information is engrained. Most of us are aware it is used as a rat poison. It is common sense this is not something anyone wants in the water we drink. We don’t need much education regarding the health effects. Most people trust that government agency, the EPA, is taking care of this toxic contaminant from the water. We think if a Water treatment facility does not comply than facility will shut down or at least the residents will be notified.

The EPA was created to protect the health and safety of American. Their goal is not to eliminate every contaminant or potential danger to people. This is just not economically feasible. Rather the EPA regulates the potential of contaminants to cause harm and keep number of people harmed to few as possible. There are literally hundreds of unregulated contaminants.

On January 22, 2001 EPA adopted a new Maximum contaminate standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb), replacing the old standard of 50 ppb. However, this is not good enough yet. Arsenic is a known carcinogen, increasing the risk of cancer even at very low concentrations.

It is absorbed through the skin in nominal amounts when compared to oral exposure. Animal test showed 0.6–4.4% absorption in monkeys. Recent research with human subjects demonstrated showering in water containing 100 ppb of arsenic resulted in significantly elevated arsenic levels in urine for several days following exposure. Ingesting very high levels of arsenic can result in death. Exposure to lower levels can cause nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet.

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