I remember when someone first told me that arsenic can be found in the drinking water coming from the taps of many homes in the United States. I took it as one of those scare statistics at first, until I came across a newspaper article on the subject a couple months later. It’s at that point that I decided to do a little research. I’ve written an article posted on ezine that gets into the details, but let me cover some of it here.
Arsenic is deadly, period. It is known for causing all sorts of cancers including bladder, lung and skin and possibly kidney and liver cancer. In 2006, the EPA set the arsenic standard for drinking water at .010 parts per million (10 parts per billion) to protect consumers served by public water systems from the effects of long-term, chronic exposure to arsenic. However, the limit was set at 50 ppb up until that time and the EPA readily admits that it reduced the maximum in part due to studies revealing health deterioration at these levels.
It’s a step in the right direction that public water systems are required to stay below 10ppb, but if you get your water from a well, you may be drinking water with much higher levels of arsenic contamination. Many areas of the country, particularly the western United States are known for naturally high levels of arsenic in the ground and well water. Being an element found in the earth’s sediment, arsenic has the ability to leech into your well water source and you may be none the wiser. Hopefully, if you live in a particularly vulnerable area, your town and/or state officials require arsenic testing as part of a home inspection or house transfer. Unfortunately there are also many towns that do not require this, or are simply not aware of new studies highlighting the need for more stringent arsenic thresholds.
State and federal governments do not require regular testing of well water for arsenic, so what develops is a gap in public safety. The public water officials must report their arsenic levels on a regular basis to state and federal officials, but many homeowners have been drinking from wells that haven’t been tested in decades. The distress of researchers pushing this issue is that even at levels lower than 10ppb, the continuous consumption of low doses may result in cancer 15-30 years down the road.
Fortunately, arsenic testing can be done for as little as $50 and it may be well worth your while to get it checked out. You can also invest in a full home filtration system, but these installations can cost upwards of $4000, with additional annual costs of $300. I recommend point of use water filters as an inexpensive and highly effective option. I’m partial to Berkey water filters since they are distinguished for their arsenic removing filter technology and the systems last for many years without needing regular filter replacements typical of others on the market. Regardless of your choice, if you drink well water, please take a few moments to learn if you may be affected by this chemical and explore your options.
The Thirsty Berkey – For the Love of Clean Water
Big Berkey Water Filters