Is Arsenic in Our Drinking Water Giving Us Heart Problems?
Scientists have found that consuming even small amounts of arsenic could put you at serious risk for heart disease. Since high levels are arsenic can be used as deadly poison, it shouldn’t be in any of our food or drink products, right? In recent studies, scientists have found that arsenic, one of the environment’s most potent pollutants, can commonly be found in drinking water (particularly in private wells), which means that just by keeping hydrated, we could be exposing ourselves to heart disease, cancer, and other risks.
The issue of high levels of arsenic in private well water, particularly in wells on Native American reservations, has been analyzed in the Strong Heart Study by the University of Oklahoma. The study found that the problem is particularly acute in the Southwest, the upper Midwest, and northern New England. In a second part of the study, scientists analyzed urine samples and found that the risk of heart attack or stroke was often doubled in instances where arsenic-laced water was consumed on a regular basis. A similar study was performed in Bangladesh, which found an increase in heart disease-related deaths from residents exposed to higher levels of the toxic chemical.
The highest level of arsenic in public drinking water legally allowed by the EPA is the trace amount of .01 mg/liter, or essentially zero. Water suppliers are required to keep arsenic levels, and other contaminants low through systematic oxidation/filtration, and must notify residents if a violation occurs.
Arsenic is not just in our drinking water. The European Food Standards Authority recently found out that about half of the U.K.’s rice products contain not-insignificant levels of arsenic, and could seriously impact consumer health.