Water is a necessity for our bodies to function. We are encouraged to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but what if that water contains harmful contaminants? Do you know what you are putting into your body? Arsenic is one such contaminant that can be found in your drinking water, and over time it may cause significant health problems. Drinking water filters are designed to reduce harmful elements, but they cannot remove everything.

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a semi-metal element that is found on the periodic table of elements. It is tasteless and odorless, making it almost impossible to detect by the naked eye. Arsenic is regulated under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2000, data showed that 25 states had arsenic in their drinking water, and studies found that up to 56 million people were drinking it at unsafe levels.

Arsenic is a natural element in the earth’s crust and can be found in runoffs from product industries and agriculture, such as orchards. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it is also a by-product of copper smelting, mining and coal burning. The council also states that U.S. industries release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every single year. Additionally, arsenic is used in paints, metals, drugs, soaps and dyes.

What Are the Health Effects of Arsenic?

You must drink arsenic in excess for several years before you will experience severe health consequences. These health effects can include damage to your skin or your circulatory system. Arsenic also greatly increases your risk of bladder, kidney, liver and lung cancer. It can also cause reproductive issues in women and birth defects.

What Can I Do?

Because arsenic is odorless and tasteless, you do not know it is there. If you receive water from a public water system, you should have little to worry about. Public water systems must adhere to the EPA’s regulations and keep arsenic below a certain level. If there is a violation of the regulation, the water company must alert you within 30 days.

However, if you receive your water from a well, you will need to be more active about the contaminants in your drinking water. First, you will want to talk to your local health department about your location and local contamination problems. The EPA website is also an excellent resources with numerous tools to help you understand your water.

Some water filtration systems will reduce arsenic from your water supply. However, not all will. Systems including oxidation/filtration, reverse osmosis and ion exchange treatment options can produce some reduction of the element. However, when using a water filter system to remove contaminants, you must regularly maintain the systems or you may be causing even more harm. Most systems require that filters be replaced every six to 12 months.

While there are many contaminates that may be hiding in your water, arsenic can be a dangerous element that you will want to find before it is too late.

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