In my efforts to stay in touch with the global water situation I have noticed a resurgent “buzz” on the topic of Arsenic in drinking water. The topic is always worth discussing. Arsenic is a known carcinogen and is a major contributor to many forms of cancer and illness. In a 2008 article posted in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA-PDF or HTML)evidenced a link between Type 2 Diabetes & low level exposure to inorganic Arsenic.
Arsenic is a metalloid that exists in both organic and inorganic forms; the later of which is the most troublesome. A common source of organic Arsenic is Fish and Seafood and for the most part it passes through the body. Arsenic was discovered in 1250 and quickly gained notoriety as an extremely poisonous metalloid and human carcinogen. It is known to cause bladder, lung and skin cancers, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The chemical attacks the central and peripheral nervous systems, damages the heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems.
Arsenic is commonly found in drinking water supplies all over the world. In its two forms, organic and inorganic; the inorganic form is more dangerous. Inorganic arsenic occurs naturally. In addition, at least six million pounds of arsenic are released into the environment of the U.S. each year through several unnatural processes including mining, burning coal, copper and lead smelting, wood-preservative treatments, municipal incinerators and the use of common pesticides.
Currently in the US, the maximum arsenic concentration allowed by the EPA is 10 parts per billion (ppb). This is also the recognized limit by the World Health Organization. Before January 2006, 50 ppb was considered acceptable in many states across the country. There is evidence for concern that levels even below 10ppb are dangerous. Recent studies have associated these lower amounts with increased levels of skin cancer. The negative effects of continuous low dosage exposure to arsenic can take years to become apparent.
All sources of drinking water should be checked. Arsenic is an element of the earth's crust and can be released from the sediment into the groundwater. Most water sources are Direct Draw from some kind of ground source; including municipally treated and distributed water.
Never blindly trust the source of your drinking and bathing water. Test your water & filter it if uncertain or remain at risk; you decide.