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Arsenic leaches into Iowa water supply

Arsenic has numerous forms, one of which is arsenite. When arsenic is described as harmful, the specific type of arsenic being referred to is arsenite. It is the most common form of arsenic found in drinking water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ingesting small amounts of arsenite can cause nausea, vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a “pins and needles” sensation on the hands and feet. Studies indicate that it may also increase the risk of cancer in the liver, bladder, lungs, and skin. Ingesting large amounts of arsenic can be fatal.

Both public and private sources of drinking water are struggling with elevated levels of arsenic in Iowa. Public water supplies routinely test for the element, but health officials are now asking private well owners to do their own tests as well, according to the Des Moines Register.

Five public water systems in Lanesboro, Mallard, Scranton, Gallery Acres West, and South Park were over the limit for arsenic in drinking water. Furthermore, a study conducted by the University of Iowa found that nearly half of the 475 private wells checked between 2006 and 2008 tested positive for arsenic and 8% violated arsenic standards.

The element occurs naturally in Iowa’s soil, where it eventually enters the groundwater. Unfortunately, this groundwater serves as a source of drinking water for 55 percent of Iowans.

“The high levels of arsenic in both public and private sources of drinking water demonstrate the critical need for testing,” states Joseph Frasca, Senior VP at EMSL Analytical, Inc.

“EMSL is one of the few testing laboratories in the country with the speciation capabilities to differentiate between the multiple forms of arsenic, including the dangerous arsenite.”

by S. C.
08 december 2011, World News > America

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