Arsenic

Sarah Jones
Research Chemist
Wednesday, 5th June 2019
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Piece of arsenic rock that is dark gray.

Arsenic

Arsenic — Drinking Water Library | H2Olabcheck
Odour None
Appearance Grey metallic solid, turns black when exposed to air; none when dissolved in water
Taste Not noticeable
Limit 10 µg/L
Sources Often comes from rocks and minerals that dissolve or erode; volcanic activity; industrial release and pollution
Uses Wood preservation and paints, metals, and semi-conductors
Health Impacts Causes arsenic poisoning; symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea and can cause cancer or heart disease

Table of Contents

Arsenic (As) in Drinking Water Information:

Properties

Arsenic is a gray metal-like compound called a metalloid. It is commonly used in metal alloys to make car batteries and semiconductors for electronics or in pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. 

Sources

Arsenic is naturally present in many different minerals and ores and may leach into groundwater as these rocks dissolve and errode. Concentrations of arsenic in groundwater can therefore vary greatly with geographic location and soil composition. Discharge of industrial effluent and fossil fuel burning are two anthropogenic sources of the compound (1).

Regulations

There is a limit of ten micrograms per litre (10 µg/L) of arsenic in drinking water. 

 

Health/Environmental Concerns:

Arsenic poisoning is a very serious condition; arsenic is recognized by the World Health Organisation as “one of the two most serious inorganic contaminants in drinking water on a worldwide basis.” Long-term exposure to arsenic increases one’s risk for cancer, heart disease, and various skin problems. Short-term exposure may cause symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The condition can also impact the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver. 

Action

If you suspect that arsenic is present in your water, get it tested right away. Any exceedance of the allowable limit should be reported the Water Services Authority immediately. If you show symptoms of arsenic poisoning, contact a doctor and seek help.

 

 

(1) National Federation of Group Water Schemes: Guide to the Parameters in the European Communities (Drinking Water) (No.2) Regulations 2007 (S. I. No. 278 of 2007)

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Arsenic

Arsenic — Drinking Water Library | H2Olabcheck
Odour None
Appearance Grey metallic solid, turns black when exposed to air; none when dissolved in water
Taste Not noticeable
Limit 10 µg/L
Sources Often comes from rocks and minerals that dissolve or erode; volcanic activity; industrial release and pollution
Uses Wood preservation and paints, metals, and semi-conductors
Health Impacts Causes arsenic poisoning; symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea and can cause cancer or heart disease