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Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in the Earth’s crust and can be present in drinking water sources. It can enter water supplies through the erosion of natural deposits or human activities, such as mining and industrial processes.

Arsenic is a known toxic substance, and exposure to high levels of arsenic in drinking water over extended periods can have serious health effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established guidelines and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for arsenic in drinking water to protect public health.

The MCL set by the EPA for arsenic in public water systems in the United States is 10 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.01 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The WHO recommends a provisional guideline value of 10 μg/L (micrograms per liter) or 10 ppb.

Health effects of arsenic in drinking water can vary depending on the level and duration of exposure. Short-term exposure to high levels of arsenic can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of arsenic has been associated with various health issues, including skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as skin, bladder, and lung cancers.

Given the potential health risks associated with high levels of arsenic in drinking water, it is essential for public water systems to monitor and control arsenic levels to comply with regulatory standards. If you are concerned about the arsenic levels in your drinking water, you can contact your local water supplier or health department to request information about water quality reports and any measures taken to address arsenic contamination. If you use a private well for drinking water, it is advisable to have the water tested periodically for arsenic and other contaminants by a certified laboratory.

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