High Arsenic Levels & Heart Disease
There are several heavy metals affecting water quality. Recently, a study linked high arsenic levels in drinking water to new health issues.
A study reported on by CNN states that high arsenic levels in drinking water causes heart damage in young adults. According to the article, “The researchers found that when arsenic levels in urine doubled, the chance of developing left ventricular hypertrophy, a thickening of the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber, rose to 47%.” The thickened walls force the heart to work harder, leading to risk of heart attack or stroke.
“Low-level arsenic exposure is associated with a disproportionate growth of the heart independent of hypertension and other traditional risk factors,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Gernot Pichler, wrote in an email. The study, published in April 2019 by the American Heart Association journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, is the first to present this information.
Arsenic in Groundwater
Arsenic is found naturally in air and soil, and groundwater is the most susceptible to contamination. Moreover, homeowners that rely on private wells for their home’s water have a higher risk of excessive arsenic levels. The U.S. Geological Survey and the CDC report the states that may have high levels of arsenic in groundwater include Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
While more research is needed, this information changes the importance of reducing or removing arsenic from drinking water. The EPA guideline is less than 10 micrograms per liter; however, even low arsenic levels can lead to adverse health issues.
Is Bottled Water Better?
Many consumers turn to bottled water when concerned about contaminants in their water, but this isn’t always the best option. There are cases when the levels of contaminants in bottled water are higher than the level found in public water systems. A recent report published by Consumer Reports found several brands of bottled water to have arsenic levels significantly higher than the 10 parts per billion level mandated by the FDA (long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney).
If you are concerned about arsenic levels in your water, the first step is to conduct a water test. Based on the results, you may want to think about installing a water filtration system. Point of use and whole house filtration systems are effective means to providing clean drinking water for your home.