Arsenic is a toxic metalloid. It is naturally found within the crust of the earth, and it comes to the earth’s surface by a volcanic eruption. There are a lot of places where arsenic is found.
Arsenic is used in the processing of several things, including ammunition, textiles, and glass. But the most common way in which every person is exposed to arsenic in our day-to-day lives is through the presence of arsenic in water and food. Contaminated groundwater contains arsenic, and so does cosmetics and food.
How Does Arsenic Enter Drinking Water?
The major question on everyone’s mind right now is that if arsenic is a poisonous and toxic substance, what leads to the presence of it in water in the first place? It can either enter groundwater through runoffs, especially from industrial processes, mining, and agriculture. Or, it can also enter through natural deposits.
In fact, it is found that the most common source of arsenic being present in groundwater is through natural minerals. But the amount of arsenic that is present in water is not the same everywhere. For example, it is present in lower quantities when it comes to rivers, streams, and lakes. But when we are talking about wells, it is usually present in much higher quantities.
Some places in the MyTapWater database do have arsenic reported in the water supply, such as in Crane, Texas.
Is Arsenic Exposure Dangerous?
Yes, exposure to arsenic is dangerous. If someone is exposed to arsenic over a medium-term (say, days or weeks), then there is a risk of developing arsenic poisoning. Here are some symptoms that you should look out for…
- Stomach pain
- Impaired nerve function
- Burning sensation in feet and hands
In some cases, arsenic exposure is also found to cause changes in the skin. The most commonly seen change is darkening. Sometimes, there might even be corn-like or wart-like growths on the skin. Such growths usually occur either on the bottoms of the feet or on the inside of the hands. Some other skin changes include rashes and skin flushing.
Compared to adults, children have the habit of consuming more water with respect to their unit body weight, and thus, they are exposed to a higher amount of arsenic. So children are at more risk, thus greater care must be taken.
If a person is exposed to arsenic over quite a long period, then you should know it enhances your risk of developing certain types of cancers. This includes lung cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer.
What is the Threshold Level of Arsenic in Water?
According to research, it is found that an amount of 10 micrograms of arsenic in 1 liter of water (0.01 parts per million) is an acceptable threshold for drinking water. But even then, there is a health risk associated with this level. So, if your water contains arsenic that is at or around the aforementioned level, you should filter your water to reduce your exposure to this toxic substance.
How to Minimize Your Exposure to Arsenic
Certain factors like the duration of exposure to arsenic, the dosage of arsenic, and the manner in which you are exposed play a great role. However, there are steps that you can take to minimize your exposure –
- Always follow up on the recommendations and rules set by the FDA to know which food substances or other products contain arsenic.
- Try to consume different types of foods so that you are not exposed to greater quantities of arsenic through any single type of food.
- Always test your water
Arsenic in water is a cause of concern, but advanced testing methods in today’s will help you take the necessary precautionary measures. There are different types of test kits in the market that you can buy.
Read More: Common Impurities Found in Water