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 in 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 in 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 could 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.
Data SourcesUtah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS).
DefinitionA community water system is a public water system which serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents.
How We Calculated the Rates
Page Content Updated On 03/13/2012, Published on 03/28/2012