Does Tap Water Contain Arsenic? - Mayu Water Answers

Does Tap Water Contain Arsenic?

Arsenic is a naturally occuring chemical found in the earth's crust. However, inorganic arsenic is often found in drinking water and is harmful to human health.

Photo of Cameron-Leigh Henning
By Cameron-Leigh Henning
Photo of Romi Hector
Edited by Romi Hector

Published June 15, 2022.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element from the earth’s crust. Arsenic can be found in two forms: organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic is an arsenic compound that contains carbon with no relation to organic farming practices. Inorganic arsenic is highly toxic and is associated with negative health effects. Inorganic arsenic is found in soil, sediment, and groundwater and occurs due to ore smelting, mining, and the industrial use of arsenic.

Why Is Arsenic Found in Tap Water?

Unlike the naturally occurring minerals found in tap water, arsenic is a toxic compound. The most common place that inorganic arsenic is found is in contaminated drinking water. The majority of the arsenic in drinking water comes from natural rock formations. When the water flows through these formations, the arsenic is dissolved and carried into rivers, streams, and underground aquifers. Arsenic also enters drinking water through human activities like mining or agricultural farming.

What Are the Harmful Effects of Arsenic in Drinking Water?

Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen, which means it is a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissues. The immediate effects of acute arsenic poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms are followed by muscle cramps and numbness or tingling of the extremities. Exposure to arsenic from drinking water and food also has long-term effects, including skin lesions, pigmentation changes, and hyperkeratosis, which may all be a precursor to skin cancer. In addition to skin cancer, long-term arsenic exposure can also cause bladder and lung cancer. Other adverse health effects include pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.