A recently released study reported that young adults with low-to-moderate levels of exposure to arsenic over five years developed heart damage.
Arsenic is a drinking water contaminant regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Arsenic Rule, which has been in place since 2001. The rule, which is applicable to all community water systems, sets a standard for arsenic in drinking water of 10 parts per billion. So if you receive your water from a drinking water utility, you can have confidence that it is monitoring and treating for arsenic. Your consumer confidence report – available from your utility upon request and distributed at least once per year – carries results of the testing.
However, if you get your water from a private well, you should be testing for arsenic and other potential contaminants. EPA provides some helpful guidance. The National Ground Water Association also has tips for dealing with arsenic in drinking water.
While arsenic naturally occurs in rocks and soil, the World Health Organization reports its greatest threat to human health is through untreated groundwater. According to the study, the amount of damage to the human heart is associated to the amount of arsenic found in drinking water.
“We recommend that everybody using a well test their water for arsenic,” said Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, a physician-epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, in an American Heart Association article. “If you don’t have a well, you are safer because the EPA regulates the level of arsenic in community water systems.”