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Indicator Report - Drinking Water: Arsenic

Why Is This Important?

People drink and use water every day. The majority of Americans are provided with high quality drinking water. About 90% of people in the U.S. (262 million in 2006) get their water from a community water system versus a smaller water supply, such as a household well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets regulations for treating and monitoring drinking water delivered by community water systems. Currently, there are water quality standards and monitoring requirements for over 90 contaminants. Drinking water protection programs play a critical role in ensuring high quality drinking water and protecting the public's health.

Because people drink and use water every day, contaminants in drinking water have the potential to affect many people. The number of people served by a community water system varies from as low as 25 to hundreds of thousands. Community water systems in the U.S. provide among the highest quality drinking water in the world. However, some contaminants are present at low levels and it is still possible that drinking water can become contaminated at higher levels. If a person is exposed to a high enough level of a contaminant, they may become ill.

Arsenic is a toxic chemical element that is naturally found in the Earth's crust such as soil, rocks, and minerals. There is a wide variation in the levels of arsenic found in drinking water systems and private water supplies across the Nation. The majority of health risks of arsenic exposure over time are long-term, although some short-term exposures at high doses can also cause adverse health effects. People who drink water containing arsenic in excess of regulatory standards over many years can experience a variety of health problems that include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, liver problems, cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological, reproductive and endocrine problems, and cancer of the bladder, skin, kidney, liver, and lung. Before 2006, community water systems were not supposed to exceed 50 micrograms of arsenic per liter. In 2006, this standard changed and currently community water systems are not supposed to exceed 10 micrograms of arsenic per liter in order to reduce adverse health effects from arsenic exposures.

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Data Sources

Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS).

Other Views


A community water system is a public water system that serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents.

Arsenic compounds (As [III] and As [V]) are found in both ground water and surface waters. The primary sources are geologic formations where arsenic can be dissolved. Higher levels of arsenic tend to be found in ground water (aquifers) as compared to surface waters, such as lakes and rivers. (Modified from National Environmental Public Heath Tracking Network (NEPTHN) Nationally Consistent Data and Measures (NCDM) arsenic indicator document version 5)

How We Calculated the Rates

Numerator: Sum of annual average of sample values/annual maximum arsenic level for the state of Utah.
Denominator: Not applicable. There are no rate measures in this indicator.

Page Content Updated On 06/11/2014, Published on 06/16/2014
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Mon, 27 April 2015 18:31:05 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:09:25 MST