Why Arsenic in Water Threatens Human Health

March 31, 2020
Why Arsenic in Water Threatens Human Health

Drinking water that has been contaminated by arsenic can pose a serious risk to public health. Residents and utilities should bear in mind these dangers when testing their water for arsenic and determining the next course of action. It is important to detect any traces of arsenic right away and have it treated or removed from the water supply as soon as possible.

Skin Changes

Exposure to arsenic in drinking water can cause significant skin changes, such as thickening and pigmentation. The color of your skin can drastically change and have a noticeable effect on your appearance. These symptoms tend to appear gradually but can manifest rapidly if exposure to arsenic-contaminated water is not halted. That is why it is crucial to implement a system for arsenic removal to get the issue addressed immediately.

Cancer

The most serious side effect of prolonged exposure to arsenic in water is cancer. Arsenic exposure has been linked with cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. The risk of developing cancer increases with the amount of arsenic that has been ingested, and also where drinking water has an arsenic concentration of 50 ug/L.

Scientists are still trying to work out how arsenic causes cancer. The current theory is that arsenic damages chromosomes, which can lead to an onset of deadly illness. Arsenic removal is therefore vital to avoiding these severe cancer risks.

Other Health Problems

Soluble inorganic arsenic is much more potent and can rapidly cause health problems. If a person ingests a large amount of arsenic in a short time, they can have severe, stomach-related symptoms such as vomiting and nervous system damage. If they do not get immediate treatment, then death is a very real possibility. Ingestion of this specific type of arsenic can also cause a reduction in blood cell production, liver enlargement, loss of sensation in the limbs and brain damage.

A study done in Taiwan about the link between long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic in drinking water and Blackfoot disease showed that there was a direct link between the two. Further findings indicated that arsenic severely damages blood vessels in the lower limbs, which progresses to gangrene. Other forms of blood vessel disease have been noted in countries with inorganic arsenic in their water supply, which shows that the effects were not just influenced by outside factors, but that the arsenic has consistently produced toxic results.

Further Studies

Studies are still being conducted about the specific relationship between arsenic exposure and other ill health effects. While the evidence in other areas isn’t as strong, some interesting correlations have been noted. The most significant among them has been for high blood pressure, heart attacks and other similar conditions related to the circulatory system. There is weak evidence, however, for diabetes and reproductive effects.

Arsenic exposure can be fatal in high doses and the cause of major, long-term health risks in lower doses. Tap water must be consistently checked to ensure that it is free of arsenic, and work environments must also be checked so that their employees are not exposed to many of these risks. Most of the health effects take a while to develop, so acting early can be the difference between light and severe consequences.

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