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How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Arsenic in Your Drinking Water

Is arsenic lurking in your drinking water? Our NSF expert offers tips for treatment options when you don’t know where to turn.

It’s easy to take water for granted — unless you see, smell or taste something unpleasant coming from your tap, you probably don't think twice about the safety of your drinking water or the potential for contaminants.

But heads up, many contaminants, like arsenic don’t have an odor, taste or any visible warning signs.

In many parts of the world, water is contaminated with heavy concentrations of arsenic.

How does this hazardous metal get into your drinking water? Arsenic is already in the environment. It can be in the air, soil and groundwater. As a result, arsenic occurs naturally in drinking water and can put your health at risk.

Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with developmental issues, heart disease, diabetes, and damage to the nervous system and brain. Children are more sensitive to these health risks. Because arsenic is a health contaminant of significant concern, it is important to get your water treated effectively.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million people worldwide might be regularly exposed to arsenic in drinking water. Across the globe, the Environmental Protection Agency, the European Commission and WHO work with communities to adopt regulations that limit arsenic in drinking water. Drinking water with arsenic above regulatory health levels can increase your risk of cancer and other serious health effects

So, you are probably wondering, “How do I know if there is arsenic in my water? And what steps should I take to protect myself and my family?” I turned to Rick Andrew, NSF’s resident water treatment expert, who offered some steps you can take to treat this contaminant:

  • Do your homework: Find out from your water supplier what is in your water. In some areas there are water quality reports available. In the U.S. and some provinces in Canada you may receive a consumer confidence report (CCR), also known as an annual drinking water quality report from your water supplier.
  • Testing, testing: Have your water tested for arsenic. Since you cannot taste or smell arsenic, this is the surest way to tell if there are harmful quantities in your drinking water.
  • Treatment plan: If tests detect high arsenic levels, and repeat sampling confirms the results, consider what type of treatment system will work for your home or office to reduce arsenic.
  • Use a water filter: If you use a filter, make sure it’s certified to remove arsenic. Remember that boiling your water does not remove arsenic from drinking water.

Do you have questions about arsenic and your water? Contact us.

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