CARO News

Arsenic in Water – Testing 101

Posted on November 13, 2018

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a chemical element with the atomic symbol “As”. It is found naturally in rocks in the earth’s crust. Arsenic is recognized as a poison and cancer causing substance (carcinogen). In water, arsenic has no smell or taste and can only be detected through a chemical test. Arsenic can be present in surface water and ground water, although ground water is more common. The Canadian Drinking Water Guideline for arsenic sets a Maximum Acceptable Concentration of 0.010 mg/L.

How does Arsenic get in our Drinking Water?

Localized high concentrations of arsenic have been found in well water from several regions in British Columbia, almost always associated with arsenic-containing bedrock formations. The most common sources of elevated arsenic levels in our water are:

  • Weathering of natural arsenic-bearing minerals and ores.
  • Infiltration or runoff from agriculture, mining, and industrial processes.

  • What are the health effects of Arsenic exposure?

    Water that contains arsenic is only a concern if it is being used for drinking or food preparation. Exposure to high levels of arsenic can cause short-term or acute symptoms, as well as long-term chronic health effects. Symptoms of high exposure to arsenic may include stomach pain, vomitting, diarrhea, and impaired nerve functions. Arsenic can also produce a pattern of changes in your skin which include darkening of wart-like growths- most frequently found on the palms or soles. Since children tend to drink more water per unit of body weight than adults, they may have a greater exposure to arsenic from drinking water.

    Long-term (years to decades) exposure to even relatively low concentrations of arsenic in drinking water can increase your risk of developing certain cancers including skin, lung, kidney, and bladder cancer. Cancer is the critical health effect used in setting the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

    CARO has your back.

    We recognize Arsenic to be an important contaminant to be tested. On our online store, we offer a metals in water test, as well as our essential drinking water test kit, for full potability testing. If you’re looking for a custom order request, feel free to contact us and our team will happily assist you.

    Sources:
    HealthlinkBC – Arsenic in Drinking Water

     

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