Although rare, high levels of Arsenic in your drinking water can be very dangerous to your health. However as Arsenic can dissolve from natural rock found at water wells it is sometimes found throughout private water supplies in the UK. In this article we look at why this happens, the potential impact upon our health that arsenic contaminated water poses and what you should do if you're concerned and want to remove Arsenic from your drinking water.
- Arsenic is a poisonous chemical that can make its way into public water sources from natural rocks found at the water source.
- At low levels of consumption Arsenic causes no health issues or harm to the human body.
- Recent research in Cornwall has shown that 5% of private water supplies had concentrations of arsenic exceeding the maximum safe levels set by the World Health Organisation.
- If you've tested your tap water water and found levels of arsenic above 10 parts per billion (ppb), we would advise contacting your local water supplier or a qualified plumber.
Why does my tap water contain Arsenic?
Arsenic, unlike artificially added chemicals within our water, such as fluoride and chlorine, is naturally occurring at a water well as it dissolves from rocks. Whilst arsenic is understandably an alarming chemical to discover within water supplies as, it must be noted that at low levels, arsenic is a perfectly safe chemical to consume.
What you find in public drinking supplies is often the inorganic form of the chemical. The source of this sometimes occurs from windblown dust, but most often is caused whilst water sits in resovours or surface water supplues through leaching or runoff from soil, rocks and sediment.
Arsenic and your health
The officially recommended highest levels of arsenic to water concentration is 0.01 milligrams per litre. This is a extremely small amount, in contrast, fluoride has a recommended level of 1.5mg per litre and chlorine a recommended level of 5mg per litre. Arsenic only becomes dangerous when consumed in high quantities or over prolonged periods.
Health issues that can be caused by the prolonged exposure include: pigmented skin lesions, skin cancer, vascular disease, damage to the nervous system and organ cancer. These conditions come about as a direct result of the damage that arsenic causes blood vessels and nerves within the human body.
It's important to also understand that the effects of arsenic can be potentially more serious for those who are young, old, in ill-health or who are pregnant.
What should you do if you discover Arsenic in your water?
Similarly to other contaminants such as fluoride and chlorine, it's impossible to see, taste or smell arsenic within water. Because of this you can only be certain that there is arsenic within your water following a professional grade test.
If you do have any concerns or are aware of high arsenic levels we suggest you contact your local water supplier or a qualified plumber to assess the situation.