About Arsenic Water Contamination
You have no doubt heard of the 1944 Frank Capra comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, in which murderous aunts serve up elderberry wine to elderly gentlemen – with their crazy nephew assisting by burying the unfortunate victims (who really could have used an arsenic water filter!). While this comedy takes arsenic to an extreme, arsenic is indeed a carcinogen. Arsenic is harmful to us due to the interaction of arsenic ions with protein. Protein is found throughout our entire body.
In the United States, arsenic is most commonly found in the ground water of the Southwest. Parts of Michigan, New England, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota are also known to have significant concentrations of arsenic in ground water. Arsenic is common in groundwater near orchards where pesticides are frequently sprayed and around production plants. Increased levels of skin cancer have been associated with arsenic exposure in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin, even at levels below the 10 part per billion drinking water standard established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Arsenic Water Filters and Systems
eFilter Water offers a selection of different arsenic home water filter systems that can dramatically reduce, if not almost totally remove, any arsenic from your drinking water. Different home water filtration types have different reduction capabilities – from active carbon filter systems to reverse osmosis water filter systems – that can remove 94 to 98% of arsenic from your water. If you need assistance finding the right home water filtration system to reduce arsenic from your home’s water supply, contact one of eFilter Water's Certified Water Specialists.
There is reason to believe that chronic arsenic exposure is a contributor to the development of diabetes, bladder cancer and lung cancer. Arsenic exposure has also been linked to kidney cancer in addition to cancer of the liver, prostate, skin and nasal cavity. Arsenic poisoning has been linked to disorders such as hyperpigmentation (Black-foot disease), peripheral vascular disease, and gangrene. Studies have also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the heart and blood vessels. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems. Suffice it to say, arsenic, in even small concentrations, is harmful to you and your health. Protect your health with an arsenic water filter!
The U.S. EPA has 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. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), however, states that the EPA’s current maximum contaminant level for arsenic, “is grossly inadequate for protecting public health,” because it was set in 1942, “before arsenic was known to cause cancer.”
If you live in any of the areas mentioned, take effective precautions for your health and get an arsenic water filter. What's your health worth? If you're like us at eFilterWater, almost nothing is too good for your health and long term well being!
Arsenic in Water - How It Got There
Arsenic gets into our drinking water in three ways. The largest source of arsenic is naturally occurring in rocks and minerals. In these instances, water absorbs arsenic as it slowly runs through the soil on its way into groundwater. Volcanic activity and forest fires also stir up arsenic, causing it to leach into soil as rain and snow melt, and carries it into the Earth.
The second way that we get arsenic in water is as a by-product of industrial processes like copper, lead and zinc ore smelting. Ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements, including metals. The ores are extracted from the Earth through mining; they are then refined to extract the valuable element(s). The process of refining these ores into pure copper, which is widely used in electrical and electronics industries today; lead, which is used extensively in batteries, sheathing materials for high voltage power cables and ammunition with lead bullets. Zinc separates these elements from a host of unwanted substances including arsenic. Although the U.S. EPA regulates the disposal of arsenic to specified standards, over time arsenic still winds up in ground water, which is used for drinking water.
The third source of arsenic contamination is farming that uses pesticides that contain arsenic. Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, all designed to reduce or inhibit various things. As an insecticide, arsenic in the form of lead arsenate was used in orchards to control codling moth. It was used from the 1800s to the 1940s when DDT became available, leaving behind both arsenic and lead in the topsoil. The problem is, arsenic stays with us. As these orchards were converted into housing subdivisions, homeowners found their lawns and gardens were contaminated with arsenic. Similar issues exist as arsenic has been used with fungicides and herbicides. Many weed killers like crabgrass killer or liquid edger contain arsenic as one of several active ingredients. As these pesticides are used, they leach into the soil which eventually becomes ground water from which we get our drinking water.
Whether arsenic results from natural or man-made sources, it is very dangerous to human health. For the sake of your health, take effective precautions when it comes to arsenic in water. Get yourself an arsenic water filter for yourself and the health of your family.
Arsenic Uses Today
Most arsenic in industrial uses today is currently used as a wood preservative, but arsenic is also used in paints, dyes, metals, drugs, soaps and semi-conductors.
The use of arsenic as a wood preservative is much like the rationale for using pesticides. Arsenic-treated wood resists insects, microbes, and molds, making it an effective preservative. The problem has come from the fact that touching arsenic-treated wood can cause arsenic to be absorbed through the skin, or ingested through normal hand to mouth contact, particularly with small children. Arsenic can also leach into the ground surrounding the location of the treated wood, providing yet another exposure pathway for children playing in the area.
Until 2003, children's outdoor wood playsets used arsenic based wood preservatives. As a result of legislation banning the continued use of arsenic based wood preservatives, it is no longer being added to new construction. However, picnic tables, play structures and other outdoor wood structures built before 2003 still exist and exposure is still possible. It is recommended that you use a sealant annually to prevent arsenic from surfacing in existing wood structures and being a potential carcinogen.
The use of arsenic in paints was that of a pigment. Arsenic was used as a white extender pigment in white paints where whiteness was important as well as to enhance green pigments. The use of arsenic in dyes was primarily with the color indigo. Arsenic trisulfide and a thickener were added to the indigo vat. The arsenic compound delayed the oxidation of the indigo long enough to paint the dye onto fabrics. Many years ago, arsenic was also used in special soap. Arsenic soap was used to prevent the growth of larvae in animal hides that were to be stuffed.
Most, if not all, of these uses of arsenic have been stopped. However, a current and bigger concern with the use of arsenic is in the semi conductor industry. Gallium arsenide is a compound of the elements gallium and arsenic. It is used in the manufacture of devices such as microwave frequency integrated circuits, infrared light-emitting diodes, laser diodes, solar cells, and optical windows. The State of California has declared gallium arsenide a carcinogen. Given the increasing usage of gallium arsenide, there may be significant environmental concerns as related to their disposal. Moreover, workers in industries using the substance may be at risk of cancer as well.