Arsenic is found naturally in soil and minerals.
Arsenic gets into water through rocks, minerals, ores, industrial waste, and deposits from the air. Arsenic can also get into water from run-off and leaching. Arsenic can leach into water from:
People are exposed to arsenic when they drink water which contains arsenic.
Arsenic is classified as a human carcinogen. Being exposed to arsenic for many years may increase the risk of these types of cancer:
Studies show that arsenic might cause respiratory disease, heart disease, nervous system problems, GI problems, and blood diseases.
Children might be exposed to more arsenic because they drink more water per kilogram than adults do.
The risk to your health depends on how:
You may have limited exposure to arsenic when you bath or shower using water with arsenic as it gets on your skin and you might breathe in water droplets.
Treatment processes for removing arsenic are limited, so Health Canada has set the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of arsenic in drinking water at 0.010 milligrams per litre (mg/L). Since this guideline is higher than the level that’s considered no risk, try to keep arsenic levels in drinking water as low as possible.
You can't see, taste, or smell arsenic. Your water can be tested to see how much arsenic is in it.
All public water supplies are checked for total arsenic. You can find out results from the supplier.
If you have a private water source, make sure to have a chemical test done to make sure it is safe to drink. Make sure to have your water sample tested by an accredited lab.
If there is a concern with arsenic in any public water supply, contact your municipal supplier or
Alberta Environment and Parks.
If a consumer/well owner is concerned about arsenic in drinking water:
After you have installed your system, have the treated water tested for total arsenic at a private accredited lab to make sure your system is working properly. Monitor and maintain your water treatment equipment according to manufacturer instructions.
If you have any questions about arsenic in water, call
Environmental Public Health.
Current as of: March 13, 2018
Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services
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