Arsenic in Drinking Water:
Effect on Health
Drinking water can be contaminated with arsenic through natural resources such as soils and rocks, but it also results from human activities. Long-term ingestion of arsenic exposure through drinking water can cause multiple adverse health effects including cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological effects and endocrine problems such as diabetes. Ingestion of arsenic-rich water can increase the risk of skin, bladder, liver, lung, and kidney cancer. Arsenic in drinking water is a global problem and multiple studies done all around the world. One of the studies conducted in Bangladesh that confirmed that long-term ingestion of arsenic exposure can cause serious respiratory problems. For example, the occurrence ratio for chronic bronchitis increased with increasing exposure. When arsenic exposure was less than or equal to 600 mg/L, the prevalence ratio was 1.6. When arsenic exposure was increased to 601 to 700 mg/L, the prevalence ratio was 2.7. One study showed bladder cancer and lung cancer mortality rate elevated due to chronic exposure to drinking water. The Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMRs) for bladder cancer in men was 6 and in women 8.2 and for lung cancer, SMR in men was 3.8 and in women 3.1. In one of the cross-sectional study, it showed that rates of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, and preterm birth were 2.9, 2.24, and 2.54 times higher, respectively, in the exposed group (exposed to arsenic-rich water) compared with unexposed group. This explained that chronic exposure to arsenic contaminated drinking water and prevalence of adverse pregnancy outcomes have positive relationship. The study conducted in Iran explained that drinking arsenic contaminated water can also leads to dermatological lesions, hypertension, and chromosomal abnormalities. Based on study, inorganic arsenic exposure through drinking can also develop type 2 diabetes. Finally, the last study discussed that lowering arsenic exposure can reverse some of the symptoms of arsenosis. Urine test is the best way to test for arsenic exposure compared with blood test, hair test, or nail test. In the United States, all the public water suppliers are required to test their water before supplying. If water is coming from private well, having it checked with laboratory is important to stay away from health problems.
Arsenic is a semi-metal element in the periodic table and an element that can be found naturally on earth in small concentrations. Its properties are tasteless and odorless and it’s a steel gray, very brittle, crystalline, and semi-metallic solid. Some of the environmental sources of arsenic include rocks and soil, water, plants, animals, and air. It can be more released into the environment through natural activities such as erosion of rocks and forest fires, volcanic action, or through human actions. There are three forms of arsenic in the environment which are gray, yellow, and black. The most common form is gray arsenic. It has a metal shine and conducts electricity. Yellow form is a poor electrical conductor and does not have a metallic sheen. It is prepared by cooling gray arsenic vapor in liquid air. It returns back to gray form when places at room temperature. Black arsenic can be prepared by cooling arsenic vapor at 100 oC to 200 oC. It is glassy, brittle and a poor electrical conductor. There are two types of arsenic in the environment which are inorganic arsenic and organic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is found naturally in rocks and soils. Based on the research, organic arsenic found to be safer compared to inorganic arsenic. There are several varied uses of Arsenic; however carefulness should be always taken in every uses since it is a poisonous. The primary use of arsenic is for the protection of wood because it is effective in getting rid of insects, fungi and bacteria. It has...