Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Arsenic in Water - NO Safe Level for Drinking?

The issues of arsenic in groundwater, especially used for drinking, is well known for areas of Asia.  This is particularly serious in Bangladesh, and also of concern in some areas of India and Thailand.  It is also known to occur in many other areas including Indonesia, Australia and ....... the USA.

Up to at least around the year 2000, arsenic levels in drinking water considered safe, especially from groundwater sources were highly variable.  Again Bangladesh was among the most problematic, as some whole regional areas mostly seemed to show groundwater wells were commonly unsafe - even with nominally quite high "safe" levels of arsenic - 100 ppb or more. [ should be much lower]  

In early 2000 the US reduced the safe level from 50 ppb to 5 ppb, which was subsequently raised to 10ppb [0.010 mg/L] which became the new standard in 2001, allowing a few years for compliance, and which could be enforced by 2006.

It did not apply to smaller individual wells or bores however, only public utilities.  

In Australia the level was set at 7 ppb [0.007 mg/L] in the 2004 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and with which public authorities must comply .

Mostly, bores and wells did not get tested unless arsenic was suspected.

Recent evidence seems to indicate that possibly there is no allowable level for arsenic in drinking water.  It should be zero.......not present in drinking water.

More information is here in this recent report.  

It seems it could be a bigger and more important issue than the presence of lead, an issue of some considerable concern in those areas where lead is mined or refined, and was previously of more widespread concern over lead in both paint and fuel.  Lead poisoning is potentially life threatening for young children......as may arsenic.

Take care if you are using well or groundwater from a bore as many rural properties do - it should be very low in arsenic, preferably free of the metal.  If any hint of a problem, or in a region with known problems - get it tested.  

Avoid arsenic in drinking water. 

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