It’s difficult not to have some measure of admiration for a substance that, from the time of the Roman Empire all the way to the Victorian era, was referred to as the "king of poisons" as well as the "poison of kings." In fact, history is riddled with accounts of both royalty and commoners carrying out assassinations for personal gain using the odorless, tasteless compounds of arsenic.
Arsenic is one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust, but in its free form it is quite rare. Despite its almost legendary status as a powerful and silent killer, arsenic has a number of useful purposes. According to Encyclopedia.com, the most important use of arsenic is in the preservation of wood, in the form of a compound called chromated copper arsenate (CCA). It is added to wood used to build houses and other wooden structures, preventing organisms from growing in the wood and causing it to rot. It’s also used as a doping agent in semiconductors (gallium arsenide) for solid-state devices, as well as being used in bronzing and pyrotechnics.
Some toxic metals like arsenic, in trace amounts, might actually be essential nutrients, according an analysis in the journal EMBO Reports. In fact, scientists have found that the body needs arsenic, at a level of 0.00001 percent, to grow and maintain a healthy nervous system.
So this naturally occurring element (#33 in periodic table of the elements), which can be found in rocks and soil, water, air, plants and even animals, has some positive value. The bad news is, when it comes to arsenic in our drinking water, there aren’t many chemicals that can have a more negative impact on our health.
Highly toxic in its inorganic form (its organic form is found primarily in fish and shellfish and poses very little health risk), long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking water can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In utero and early childhood exposure has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults. Not surprisingly, arsenic is one of the World Health Organization’s Top 10 chemicals of major public health concern.
Estimates suggest that 1.7 million Americans are at risk of exposure to arsenic concentrations in household well water higher than the EPA maximum regulatory limit of 10 µg/L and 3.8 million Americans are exposed to concentrations higher than 5 µg/L. This is due, in part, because private wells aren’t covered by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Still, even in public water supplies, the occurrence of arsenic has been found to be higher than the legal standard in numerous cases.
Arsenic finds it way into our water supplies through a variety of avenues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, arsenic can enter the water supply from natural deposits in the earth or from industrial and agricultural pollution. It is widely believed that naturally occurring arsenic dissolves out of certain rock formations when ground water levels drop significantly.
Unfortunately, not all of arsenic’s appearances are nature’s doing. Some industries in the United States release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year. Once released, arsenic remains in the environment for a long time. Arsenic is removed from the air by rain, snow, and gradual settling. Once on the ground or in surface water, arsenic can slowly enter ground water. (Contaminated groundwater, in fact, presents the most prevalent threat to public health from arsenic.)
Now that we know arsenic in drinking water can have serious health effects – and we know that the incidence of arsenic, especially in well water, is at a level that merits our concern – the question is, what do we do about it?
There are five ways to remove contaminants like arsenic from water: reverse osmosis, activated alumina, ion exchange, activated carbon, and distillation. Filtration through activated carbon will reduce the amount of arsenic in drinking water from 40 - 70%. Anion exchange can reduce it by 90 - 100%. Reverse osmosis has a 90% removal rate, and distillation will remove about 98%.
CLEAR2O® has two products that stack up quite favorably against those numbers. The CLEAR2O® Advanced Water Filtration Pitcher - CWS100 and the CLEAR2O® Gravity Advanced Filter Water Pitcher - GRP200. Based on independent testing, the CWS100 will remove an impressive 99.9% of the arsenic in your drinking water; based on the same testing, the GRP will remove 80%. And with both pitchers under $35, you’d be hard pressed to find a more cost-effective solution.
Arsenic is one of the top 5 contaminants in drinking water and, based on its potential health effects, should not be ignored. For an inexpensive way to beat the arsenic problem, you owe it to your self and your family to give CLEAR2O® serious consideration. Because while arsenic has been called the king of poisons, when it comes to ways to combat it, we like to think of ourselves as royalty, too.