A scientific panel recommended more stringent controls on arsenic in drinking water, saying the EPA’s standard is far too high and may expose many people to unacceptable risks of cancer. The report by the National Academy of Science admitted uncertainties March 23 as to how arsenic exposure triggers cancer but concluded current Environmental Protection Agency regulation does not sufficiently protect public health. The EPA agreed with the report’s findings, and officials said a new arsenic standard for drinking water would be proposed by next January. Critics complained that Congress told the EPA in 1974 to strengthen the standard, which dates back to 1942, but the agency has missed three deadlines to do it.
The special committee of the Academy’s National Research Council said EPA’s current maximum allowable arsenic content of 50 micrograms per liter of drinking water poses a much greater cancer risk than the agency normally considers acceptable. The American Water Works Association, representing private experts on drinking water quality, endorsed the call for stricter standards, although it said adopting the international standard of 10 micrograms per liter could cost more than $1 billion. The group estimated 2,200 of the 56,000 U.S. water supply systems would be affected by such a rule change.
Inorganic arsenic, the form most likely to cause cancer, occurs naturally in the earth and is released into ground water that travels through rocks and soil. The highest exposure to arsenic is in drinking water from wells as opposed to areas, including most urban areas, that get drinking water from lakes and streams. New information on arsenic exposure and cancer indicate the EPA’s current standards for acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water does not sufficiently protect public health. The study said males who were found to consume water daily that contained arsenic levels near 50 micrograms per liter had a 1 in 1,000 risk of developing bladder cancer. It cited a possibility, disputed by some panel members, of a combined cancer risk of as high as 1 in 100 over a lifetime.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Pure water, about one quart per day for every 50 pounds of body weight, is one of the absolute basic foundations for optimal health. If you are unsure if arsenic is present in the water you consume, you should check your source of bottled water and/or your filter to confirm that it removes arsenic. For those of you who receive water from a well, it would also be prudent to have your water analyzed for arsenic.