Your 'Safe' Drinking Water May Harm Moms and Kids

Staff Writer
The EPA-approved levels of arsenic can hurt pregnant mothers and kids, says new study

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

When arsenic was found in apple juice, it created a big stir with public health advocates and Washington. But juice isn't the only liquid to contain harmful levels of arsenic. Now, some researchers report that the FDA-approved levels of arsenic in drinking water may hurt pregnant women and chidlren.

The study from the Marine Biological Laboratory tested pregnant and lactating mice given water containing 10 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic — the legal amount allowed by the FDA. What the researchers found was concerning: The mothers given the arsenic water had problems with their lipid metabolism, meaning they had lower levels of nutrients in their breast milk. The water also affected the mices' offspring: The pups born from mothers given tainted water grew significantly slower than their clean water counterparts.

The research is raising the age-old question: What levels (if any) of arsenic are safe in drinking water? The EPA is said to convene on whether the current limits still protect human health, but it certainly makes us want to install a water filter. Said lead author Joshua Hamilton to Fox News, "We gave [mice] drinking water with arsenic in it with exactly the same dose that you can drink out of your tap that the EPA says is safe — and bad things happened to them... It needs further investigation, but certainly it’s a cautionary tale that at such a low dose, we’re seeing these dramatic effects on these animals."