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Arsenic in the Water - The ubiquitous venom

by Γιάννης Μπουζάνας
Arsenic in the Water - The ubiquitous venom


Groundwater in many countries, including the US, has naturally elevated levels of arsenic. One study found that drinking water contaminated with a male is like smoking for years.

Arsenic is a famous poisonous element that happens naturally on Earth's stones, water, and soil. Industrial activity can also gather arsenic in specific places. To study the effects on lung health, researchers searched for arsenic levels that were at least twice as high as those allowed in America. These levels were found in Bangladesh's drinking water.
Bangladesh is not the only country where water contains elevated arsenic levels though. Groundwater in areas of Argentina, Chile, China, India, Mexico and the US have high levels of arsenic. Of course, we have to mention that some areas of Greece such as Halkidiki have very high levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic levels in groundwater differ mainly because of the site as they are directly affected by the pH of the water and the natural rocks in the area.

What is happening in America?
n 2000, one survey showed that tens of millions of Americans drank drinking water contaminated with Arsenic. The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) has adjusted the maximum permissible levels, but studies have shown that there are still problems in private and public wells.
Only in the past year found increased levels of arsenic in many American foods, especially rice products. Arsenic can literally enter the crops through the water used for irrigation.

What doctors say
Doctors already know that drinking water with arsenic can cause a host of problems such as problems in the nerves, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver and the immune system. It can also cause diabetes and various heart problems. Arsenic is also one of the few chemicals we find in the water and has been associated with certainty with cancers and mainly lung cancer. Arsenic exept lung cancer can cause skin, glandular and prostate cancer. Recent studies that have come to light indicate that arsenic causes several other anomalies such as diabetes, anemia and a problem in the reproductive system of humans.

Great research on the effects of arsenic on the lungs
In this new study, a team of experts from the US and Bangladesh dealing with public health took a sample of 20,000 volunteers living in a part of Bangladesh with different levels of arsenic in their water. He also took samples of urine from these volunteers to find out just how much male each had in his organization. Then they checked the lungs' ability of these volunteers by asking them to blow on a special machine.
The researchers found that the lungs of people who drank water with arsenic had reduced abilities compared to the others. Let us note here that obviously the researchers have taken into account all factors such as sex, age, smoking and other things that can reduce the capacity of the lungs. The more arsenic they found in the volunteers, the lower the capacity of their lungs.
Researchers first started to see these symptoms in people who had about two to ten times the arsenic than the maximum allowed limit of America. One third of the volunteers were exposed to arsenic whose level was more than ten times larger than America's maximum allowed level. They found quite a reduced capacity in the lung.
These effects on the lungs can be compared with chronic cigarette smoking.

How the problem arose in Bangladesh
The problems with arsenic in the drinking water of Bangladesh are relatively recent and unfortunately persistent. Charitable organizations first dug deep wells in this country in the 1970s because at that time hundreds of thousands of people died each year from water-borne infections such as cholera. They also searched for sources of cleaner water than the dirty surface water. In the 1990s they discovered for the first time that these wells were infected with arsenic but until now, people use these wells.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has formally recognized several methods of removing arsenic from water, but these are not applicable to Bangladesh's wells at all. In a statement made by the World Health Organization, epidemiologist Allan Smith reported this situation in Bangladesh as the greatest mass poisoning ever made in history.
This group of researchers published their work in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

What should be the maximum permissible arsenic level
The first time a limit was set for arsenic was in 1942 when 50 μg / lt was set as the maximum limit.
But in 1993 the World Health Organization dropped it to 10 μg / lt. In 1998, the European Union member states dropped the limit of 20μg / lt from 50 that was before, and they did not take much longer to legislate as the maximum allowed arsenic concentration of 10μg / lt.
US President Bush canceled the threshold of 10μg / lt just sworn in President, and this is probably due to his close ties with the hard coal industries who were the main financiers of his election campaign.
In Greece as well as in the countries of the European Union, the limit of 10mg / L is applicable. Of course this number is constantly surpassed in various regions of Greece. It simply is not a big issue because it does not touch the big urban centers. Water treatment to remove arsenic costs, which means that small municipalities get water from drilling or other areas.

How can we remove arsenic from our water?
The best solution to remove arsenic is reverse osmosis. Reverse Osmosis is a filter that consists of at least five water filtration stages including activated carbon filters capable of removing harmful substances as well as the arsenic found in water.

Primato Hellas – WATER FILTERS, Patriarhou Grigoriou E 34, Thessaloniki, Greece, +30 2310 383 588.


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George Margiolos

George Margiolos was born in Thessaloniki and has graduated from the Department of Marketing of the Alexandreio Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki. He is fluent in English and (not so fluent) in German.

Ηe has been Project Manager at Avery Dennison - Fastener Division in the UK. There, his main project was to redesign the company's products into new applications so as to become more environmentally friendly. In combination with the fact that in the UK people are more familiar with water filters, he has developed a love for environmentally friendly water filters, which reduce the use of plastic bottles and improving people's quality of life.

Since 2008, he has published over 300 unique educational and informative articles on water filters and new water treatment technologies.

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