Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, and plants and animals. According to the USEPA, it can be further released into the environment through natural activities such as volcanic action, erosion of rocks and forest fires, or through human actions. High arsenic levels can also come from certain fertilizers and animal feeding operations. Industry practices such as copper smelting, mining and coal burning also contribute to arsenic in our environment.
Higher levels of arsenic tend to be found more in ground water sources than in surface water sources (i.e., lakes and rivers) of drinking water. Arsenic is odorless and tasteless.
Non-cancer effects can include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting; diarrhea; numbness in hands and feet; partial paralysis; and blindness. Arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.
EPA has set the arsenic standard for drinking water at .010 parts per million (10 parts per billion) to protect consumers served by public water systems from the effects of long-term, chronic exposure to arsenic.
It is found in two forms or species: Arsenic III & Arsenic V.
For drinking water high in arsenic, distillers can provide a reliable and consistent method to remove both of these species.
Reverse osmosis is also used but works better when the water has been pre-chlorinated or ozonated so that any Arsenic III in water has been converted to Arsenic V before the reverse osmosis system.