Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Another Hidden Danger - World's Worst Is Bangladesh, But In USA and Elsewhere Too
#1

Arsenic in Drinking Water


  1. What are the possible health effects of arsenic in drinking water?
  2. Does it occur often?
  3. How can I find out whether my drinking water contains arsenic?
  4. How can I interpret the consequences of the level of arsenic in my drinking water?
  5. How does arsenic get into water supplies?
  6. Can water systems reduce arsenic levels in drinking water?
  7. Can I buy a filter that will remove arsenic from my water?
  8. I drink bottled water -- do I have to worry about arsenic?

1. What are the possible health effects of arsenic in drinking water?

According to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences, arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The study also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems.

2. Does it occur often?

In a February 2000 report, NRDC analyzed data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on arsenic in drinking water in 25 states. Our most conservative estimates based on the data indicated that more than 34 million Americans were drinking tap water supplied by systems containing average levels of arsenic that posed unacceptable cancer risks. We consider it likely that as many as 56 million people in those 25 states were drinking water with arsenic at unsafe levels -- and that's just the 25 states that reported arsenic information to the EPA.

3. How can I find out whether my drinking water contains arsenic?

First, check the chart, where we've analyzed and summarized data reported to the EPA over an 18-year period. (If your state is one of the 25 that failed to report data to the EPA, it won't appear in the chart -- in that case, just take the next step below.)
Then, contact your local water utility -- it is now required by law to provide a report on all contaminants and toxins found in your local drinking water. If you're not sure who provides your water, try looking in the blue pages in your phone book under "Water" or call your state drinking water program. (You can get the state's number through EPA's drinking water hotline at 1-800-426-4791.) The report from your water utility will contain the most recent test results; however, it won't include averaging over a long period (see the next answer for why averaging matters).

4. How can I interpret the consequences of the level of arsenic in my drinking water?

While NRDC can't assess the specific risks for you and your family, we encourage you to learn all you can.
Drinking water provided by most water utility companies meets or falls below the current national standard for arsenic, which is 10 parts per billion (ppb). However, some water systems may exceed this level. While arsenic levels may fluctuate over time, what is most significant from the standpoint of cancer risk is long-term exposure. For water systems in the 25 states that reported arsenic data to the EPA, we have calculated two estimates of average long-term levels: one is a very conservative estimate, the other our best estimate, based on what we believe to be the most reasonable analytical techniques (details on how we arrived at the estimates are included with the charts).
While arsenic levels may fluctuate over time, what is most significant from the standpoint of cancer risk is long-term exposure. For water systems in the 25 states that reported arsenic data to the EPA, we have calculated two estimates of average long-term levels: one is a very conservative estimate, the other our best estimate, based on what we believe to be the most reasonable analytical techniques (details on how we arrived at the estimates are included with the charts).
The table below shows the lifetime risks of dying of cancer from arsenic in tap water, based on the National Academy of Sciences' 1999 risk estimates (see our report for details on how we calculated total cancer risk).
[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD]

Arsenic Level in Tap Water
(in parts per billion, or ppb)

[/TD]
[TD]

Approximate Total Cancer Risk
(assuming 2 liters consumed/day)

[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]0.5 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 10,000[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]1 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 5,000[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]3 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 1,667[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]4 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 1,250[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]5 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 1,000[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]10 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 500[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]20 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 250[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]25 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 200[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: center"]50 ppb[/TD]
[TD="align: center"]1 in 100[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

5. How does arsenic get into water supplies?

Most arsenic enters water supplies either from natural deposits in the earth or from industrial and agricultural pollution. Arsenic is a natural element of the earth's crust. It is used in industry and agriculture, and for other purposes. It also is a byproduct of copper smelting, mining and coal burning. U.S. industries release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year.

6. Can water systems reduce arsenic levels in drinking water?

Yes. Some systems may be able to reduce arsenic levels by cleaning up or changing the source of their water. For example, some arsenic contamination results from leaching from old waste dumps, mines or tailings, or from past use of arsenic-containing pesticides. In other cases, arsenic in drinking water is caused by continuing industrial pollution. Government officials, water system managers and citizens can join forces to ensure that polluters are held accountable for cleaning up contaminated sites and reducing or eliminating new arsenic pollution. In addition, readily available treatments can remove arsenic from tap water.

7. Can I buy a filter that will remove arsenic from my water?

Yes. You should purchase filters certified by NSF International (1-800-673-8010) to remove arsenic (such as water distillation systems). While such certification is not necessarily a guarantee of safety, it is better than no certification at all. It is critically important that all filters be maintained and replaced at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer; otherwise they might make the problem worse.

8. I drink bottled water -- do I have to worry about arsenic?

Bottled water is not necessarily any safer than tap water. Often, it is nothing more than tap water that may or may not have been filtered. For more on bottled water, see the findings of NRDC's 1999 reportBottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?
Based on ARSENIC AND OLD LAWS, a February 2000 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
last revised 2/12/2009
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply


Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  BP: Spill off Scotland could be worst ever Ed Jewett 2 4,517 13-10-2011, 09:19 PM
Last Post: Ed Jewett
  Moscow & Region Experience Worst Air Pollution & Heatwave Ever. Peter Lemkin 0 3,647 07-08-2010, 06:31 PM
Last Post: Peter Lemkin
  A Farming Model to Sustain the World Magda Hassan 0 3,235 27-01-2010, 05:19 AM
Last Post: Magda Hassan
  Carbon offsets now linked to 3rd world population control Magda Hassan 1 3,266 30-12-2009, 05:03 AM
Last Post: Magda Hassan
  World leaders 'could boycott failing Copenhagen talks' David Guyatt 12 7,961 22-12-2009, 08:01 AM
Last Post: Peter Lemkin
  New Study Says Worst Current Climate Predictions Understated. Peter Lemkin 0 4,345 28-09-2009, 09:10 AM
Last Post: Peter Lemkin
  Over 70 human rights and environmental groups from around the world protest WWF Magda Hassan 0 3,551 06-07-2009, 07:50 AM
Last Post: Magda Hassan

Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)