Arsenic is naturally found in rocks and soil. Hence it can easily find its way into groundwater. As per numerous studies, a lot of states in the US are prone to arsenic contamination. Arsenic doesn’t have a taste or smell on its own hence it can’t be detected in the dissolved state.
Testing water for Arsenic is not mandatory for good private owners. However, once you know the health damages arsenic can cause, it is essential to test water for arsenic.
It causes life-long irreversible health conditions that make it important to have water that isn’t arsenic contaminated. The only way to test the presence of arsenic in water is through a lab test.
What is Arsenic?
Arsenic is an element that is widely available naturally. As per World Health Organisation, arsenic is already present in groundwater at high levels across a lot of countries. Apart from its natural origin in the Earth’s crust, it finds its way into the air, soil, and water through the increasing mining activities, power plants, pesticides, and lumber treated with arsenic.
It is found in two forms: organic and inorganic. The organic form is arsenic which contains carbon. It is considered highly toxic in its inorganic state and causes severe health problems. Arsenic found in drinking water is already a growing concern across the globe.
How Does Arsenic Become a Problem?
Arsenic is used widely in agricultural practices, mining, and power plants and occurs naturally in the environment. Due to this, it has already contaminated water, soil, and air. Arsenic used in pesticides has resulted in rice, fish, vegetables containing traces of arsenic. Water used for farming also contributes to arsenic levels being high in food.
Groundwater gets contaminated by arsenic when naturally occurring arsenic contact water. Another way drinking groundwater gets contaminated is the pesticides containing arsenic seeping into the Earth’s crust.
What are the Health Risks for Arsenic?
The effects of arsenic on health are severe and life-long. It can affect many organs like the skin, respiratory system, nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, and the overall developmental process.
It is also considered a carcinogen, and continuous exposure to this element can cause cancer of various organs, including kidneys, lungs, and skin. It is known to cause pigmentation and thickening. In Taiwan, it has infected people with the Blackfoot disease. Extreme cases of arsenic exposure have caused deaths too. Childhood cognitive delays in development are also associated with arsenic consumption.
Its consumption over a period of time in low levels has also been a subject of study. Scientists have spent hours in research concluding that even minute traces of arsenic increase cancer risk. Hence arsenic contamination is considered a severe problem.
Should You Test Your Water for Arsenic?
If you are receiving water from public water system from a city pipe, the water is likely being regularly tested for contaminants. Public water systems are supposed to distribute water only after it passes all the required certifications. This means that it contains contaminants only up to an acceptable level. In this case, you can ask the water provider to share the water quality report with you if you feel the water is contaminated.
If you are a private owner of a well, testing water for arsenic contamination is required every 3 to 5 years. In the case where you already know that the area you live in is prone to arsenic contamination or live close to an industrial area or farming lands, then it is essential to get the water tested.
How Do I Test Water for Arsenic at Home?
Arsenic doesn’t have an odor or taste, making it impossible to detect by you. The only way to see it is by testing the water, and as per Federal Law, testing private well water for any contaminants is not mandatory. A few cities and towns have a law to test water quality regularly. Whether a law mandates testing or not, you should do the test as stated by the health department for the safety of your family.
The state health department has a list of contaminants commonly found in every area across the state. You can refer to it before opting for a test. Please note that even if other wells in your area do not have arsenic contamination, you are still prone to the contamination.
Many water testing labs can easily send a detailed report on the water quality. All you need to do is send a sample to the lab. Be sure to get the test done from an accredited testing lab. Many state-certified labs also have home kits to test the presence of arsenic in water.
How do you know if you have arsenic in your water?
Arsenic cannot be detected by the naked eye or by smelling. It doesn’t affect the taste of water too. Hence you will know if the water is contaminated only by testing it. Test kits are available for quick testing at home and accredited labs that can test water for contamination.
How often should well water be tested for arsenic?
As per the state department, well water must be tested regularly after every 3 to 5 years. It doesn’t matter if your first test was negative. If the area is prone to arsenic contamination or has high levels of arsenic around, then it is recommended to do this test periodically.
What is the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water?
Earlier, a presence of 50 parts per billion was considered an acceptable level of arsenic in water. But due to the level of side effects arsenic contamination causes, in 2001, EPA lowered this level to 10 parts per billion.
How do you remove arsenic from drinking water?
The best way to remove arsenic from drinking water is by using a water filter made especially for removing arsenic. There are many different filters available in the market, but the two most preferred ones are: Reverse osmosis filters and a whole house filter. There are filters specifically designed to remove arsenic. Using distillers is another solution to remove arsenic from water efficiently.
We can’t stress enough the fact that arsenic contamination is not suitable for your family’s health. Hence, getting timely tests for your drinking water supply, mainly well water, is very important. If you notice sudden health issues or changes in skin and hair, do test your water for arsenic.