Arsenic is a natural element that is found in low concentrations just about everywhere in nature. Environmental pollution by arsenic can be due to soil erosion into lakes, rivers and streams, man-made dumping and industrial spills. Arsenic has been used widely in insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, algicides, sheep dips, wood preservatives, and dyes. Arsenic-based drugs are still used in treating certain tropical diseases such as African sleeping sickness and dysentery, and in veterinary medicine to treat parasitic diseases in dogs, turkeys and chickens. Recently, arsenic has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an anticancer agent in the treatment leukemia.
Potential for human exposure
It is estimated that several million people are chronically exposed to arsenic throughout the world. Arsenic contamination has been identified at 781 hazardous waste sites by the U.S. EPA.
Recent reports of large populations in 11 countries that have been exposed to arsenic in their drinking water are displaying various health conditions including cardiovascular and disease, developmental abnormalities, neurologic and behavioral disorders, diabetes, hearing loss, and cancer. Arsenic exposure affects the organ systems including the cardiovascular, dermatologic, nervous, renal, gastro-intestinal, and respiratory systems. Research has also shown significantly higher mortality rates for cancers of the bladder, kidney, skin, and liver. Arsenic has been detected in well and municipal water supplies in the US. Non-cancerous health problems include:
- Thickening and discoloration of the skin
- Stomach pain
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Partial paralysis
Protecting against arsenic
Arsenic has been found in well and municipal water supplies across the United States. The Health Metric Heavy Metals test is easy to use and will alert you to heavy metal contamination in your home or workplace water supply. If heavy metals are detected you have the option of filtering your water with a reverse osmosis filtration system or buying bottled water.
Be sure to test your water filter to make sure it is functioning properly. You can also use the Health Metric Heavy Metals test on bottled water to make sure it has been properly filtered.