What You Need to Know About Arsenic in Well Water

June 14, 2018

Shocking as it is, it’s not uncommon for arsenic—which has been used as a poison—to be found in well water supplies. If you have well water, you’ll want to make sure to get it tested and take steps to ensure your water is free of arsenic.

But first, let’s discuss exactly what arsenic is and how it ends up in water supplies to begin with.

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is an odorless and tasteless element that naturally occurs in rocks and soil. It’s also found in water sources that come into contact with these arsenic-containing rocks and soil. It’s used for different purposes in both industry and agriculture and is also a byproduct of copper smelting, mining, and coal burning.

When combined with other elements, arsenic can make chemicals that are used to preserve wood and kill insects on agricultural crops.

How Does Arsenic Enter a Private Well System?

One of the main ways arsenic enters a private well system is from water flowing through arsenic-rich rocks and soil. It can also enter water through natural environmental events, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions.

Agricultural applications, mining, and smelting also contribute to arsenic being released in the environment, and it eventually ends up in groundwater system via the flow of rains and melting snow.

Potential Health Effects Related to Arsenic

Since arsenic is a known human carcinogen, high levels of exposure can lead to potentially serious health effects. The primary route of entry into the human body is through the mouth.

Drinking very high concentrations of arsenic in the short-term may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle cramping or weakness

These symptoms usually disappear after the exposure is removed.

Long-term exposure from drinking water containing arsenic for many years may cause changes to the pigment of skin, potentially resulting in the development of small corns and warts on the soles, palms, and torso. This is the most characteristic sign of long-term arsenic contact and may simultaneously occur with numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Other health effects may include:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Decreased red and white blood cell production
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased risk of cancers of the liver, bladder, lungs, and skin

Does Your Private Well Water Contain Arsenic?

If your well water has never been tested, hasn’t been tested in a while or if you suspect a problem with the water, you should immediately contact your state certification officer to obtain a list of recommended laboratories in your area.

Private well water should be tested annually by a certified drinking water laboratory for bacteria, nitrates and anything else of concern, including arsenic.

How to Remove Arsenic from Your Drinking Water

Heating or boiling your water will not remove arsenic. In fact, it will slightly increase the concentration of arsenic! Water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, ultra-filtration, distillation or ion exchange can help, though they typically only treat the water at one faucet location.

If you want to have peace of mind whenever you and your family drink water and avoid having to worry about getting your water tested regularly, there is a simple solution by switching to purified water you can trust. Try Primo Water and enjoy drinking water without the roll of the dice!