It was reported in January 2022 that the groundwater in a city and eight towns in Batangas province have been found positive for arsenic contamination. The areas with high levels of arsenic contamination were revealed to be the municipalities of Laurel, Balete, San Nicolas, Mataas na Kahoy, Alitagtag, Santa Teresita, Lemery, Taal and the city of Tanauan.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element that occurs in the earth’s mineral deposits and dissolves in water and soil. We are typically exposed to inorganic arsenic since groundwater is the main source of water for drinking and cooking. However, the maximum level of arsenic that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows in community water systems is up to 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L*) or parts per billion only. Exposure to what exceeds the maximum level can cause harmful health effects to the human body.
How do I get exposed?
According to the Batangas Public Information Office (PIO), the presence of arsenic in the groundwater was first detected after the eruption of Taal Volcano last January 12, 2020. Arsenic is a metalloid as occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal.
Aside from volcanic eruption, mining and industrial spills can also cause arsenic contamination. It may be inhaled by breathing in dust from industrial processes or smoke from burning arsenic-treated wood.
Inorganic arsenic can also be detected in some food but the main exposure to inorganic arsenic is normally from consuming contaminated water. Since it is odorless or tasteless, the arsenic level in drinking water wells can only be determined through laboratory analysis specifically designed for detecting arsenic.
What are the health risks of Arsenic?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arsenic enters the human body principally through the mouth, and inhaled arsenic also is absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream. The chances of being affected by exposure to arsenic depends on how much you consume and how sensitive you are to it. Some people may be affected by lower levels of arsenic while others stay unaffected at the same levels. Arsenic is most harmful to people with long-term illnesses, young children, the elderly, and unborn babies as they can be more sensitive to exposure.
Long-term exposure to low levels of inorganic arsenic can cause cancer and adverse effects on human skin like thickening and discoloration of the skin. It can also cause other human health problems including problems with blood vessels, high blood pressure, heart disease, nerve effects including numbness and/or pain, and interference with some important cell functions. Meanwhile, short-term exposure to very high levels of arsenic may cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, weakness, and even death.
How do we reduce arsenic level?
If a high level of arsenic is detected in your source of water, it is better to consider using a different drinking water source or installing a treatment unit for your drinking water. Reverse osmosis water purifiers are exceptionally good in purifying your water. It uses energy to push water through a RO membrane that has tiny pores. The RO membrane stops many contaminants such as arsenic while allowing clean water to pass through. Reverse Osmosis purifiers from A.O. Smith can reduce arsenic in the water by about 85%. Treating your drinking water with A.O. Smith’s RO purifiers will assure you that you and your family are drinking safe and healthy water.
Water contaminants such as arsenic could negatively affect one's health. However, most water contaminants are something that we cannot easily avoid since they are odorless, tasteless and impossible to be detected with the human eye. With the use of A.O. Smith’s Reverse Osmosis water purifiers, the source of our water won’t be a problem. No matter how contaminated your drinking water is, A.O. Smith RO water purifiers can purify it to make it safe to drink.