What is Arsenic ?
Arsenic is a chemical element with symbol As and atomic number 33. It was first isolated by Albertus Magnus in 1250. Arsenic is a semi-metal element, a member of group VA in the periodic table . It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices.
Properties of Arsenic :
Arsenic is a crystalline metalloid, usually steel gray and very brittle. It is odorless and tasteless. When heated, it undergoes rapid oxidization into arsenic oxide. This substance smells strongly of garlic. When arsenic comes into contact with the air, it begins to tarnish.
Effect on Health :
Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements that can be found. Humans may be exposed to arsenic through food, air & water . Exposure may also occur through skin contact with soil or water that contains arsenic. Arsenic exposure may be higher for people that work with arsenic. Levels of arsenic in food are fairly low, as it is not added due to its toxicity. But levels of arsenic in fish and seafood may be high, because fish absorb arsenic from the water they live in. Luckily this is mainly the fairly harmless organic form of arsenic, but fish that contain significant amounts of inorganic arsenic may be a danger to human health. Organic arsenic can cause neither cancer, nor DNA damage. But exposure to high doses may cause certain effects to human health, such as nerve injury and stomachaches. Inorganic arsenic can damage DNA.
Effect on Environment :
The arsenic cycle has broadened as a consequence of human interference and due to this, large amounts of arsenic end up in the environment and in living organisms. Arsenic is mainly emitted by the copper producing industries, but also during lead and zinc production and in agriculture.It cannot be destroyed once it has entered the environment, so that the amounts that we add can spread and cause health effects to humans and animals on many locations on earth. The concentrations of the dangerous inorganic arsenics that are currently present in surface waters enhance the chances of alteration of genetic materials of fish. This is mainly caused by accumulation of arsenic in the bodies of plant-eating freshwater organisms. Birds eat the fish that already contain eminent amounts of arsenic and will die as a result of arsenic poisoning as the fish is decomposed in their bodies.Plants absorb arsenic fairly easily, so that high-ranking concentrations may be present in food.
How will arsenic be removed from my drinking water ?
The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing arsenic to below 0.010 mg/L or 10 ppb: adsorption media, ion exchange, coagulation/filtration, oxidation/filtration, and point-of-use or point-of-entry treatment using activated alumina or reverse osmosis.