Arsenic in Drinking Water: Problems and Solutions

The age-old poison could be jumping out of the history books and into your water.


While arsenic may have been known as the “king of poisons” in 18th century Europe, it’s also a common contaminant found in our drinking water today. Here’s why you don’t want to find arsenic in drinking water, and how to best avoid exposure.

Because arsenic cannot be seen and has no smell or taste, this contaminant has a murderous history – it was the weapon of choice for aristocrats for hundreds of years, from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance.

(In fact, arsenic-contaminated beer resulted in over 6,000 poisonings and 71 deaths in northern England in 1900 alone).

Today, arsenic is mainly known as a contaminant that seeps into drinking water and causes a myriad of health issues for those who consume it unknowingly.

Naturally occurring in rock and sometimes found as an industrial byproduct, arsenic has been found in the groundwater of every state in the U.S., which means all of us must be aware of the risk factors.

The Problems

While the EPA restricts the amount of arsenic that can legally exist in drinking water, it doesn’t ban it. On the other hand, scientists warn that trace levels of arsenic increase the risk of cancer and other disorders.

Exposure to this harmful contaminant may cause:

  • Cancer in the skin, lungs and kidney (most common)
  •  Skin changes, such as thickening and pigmentation (most common)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Disturbances of cardiovascular and nervous system functions
  • Death
  • Blackfoot disease (found in Taiwan)

Additionally, in 2014, Environmental Health published a piece on how consumption of arsenic is negatively associated with childhood cognitive development. Scientists performed a cross-sectional study on children exposed to arsenic from well water and those who were not. Those exposed to small levels of arsenic (>5ppb) saw lower scores on the full-scale IQ, perceptual reasoning, working memory and verbal comprehension scores.

It’s not singular, large doses that scientists worry about – it’s consumption in low levels over long periods of time.

Read more about arsenic here and here.

The Solutions

As mentioned above, arsenic cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. The only way to detect this harmful contaminant in your water is to schedule a water test. 

A Culligan water expert will diagnose your water issues, then supply a customized solution to ensure your water is not only safe for drinking, but also tastes great.

We recommend installing a Culligan Reverse Osmosis system to best eliminate contaminants that may be lurking in your tap and affecting your family’s health. You can install a whole-house filter, or a point-of-use system if you’re only looking to purify water from one tap.

Contact your local Culligan Man today!

Better water is one call away. Get started with a free water test from your local Culligan Man.