Introduction to Arsenic

Arsenic in Water, Agriculture, and the Environment
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Arsenic in Drinking Water

The major detrimental impact of arsenic is by the ingestion of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic is toxic and can have a detrimental affect on human health. More than several hundred million people worldwide affected by arsenic in drinking water. With one liter per day ingestion of water at an arsenic concentration of 50 µg/L, the lifetime risk of dying from cancer of the liver, lung, kidney or bladder could be as high as 13 per 1000 persons (Smith et al, 1992). With an arsenic concentration of 500 µg/L, the lifetime risk would be 13 per 100 persons

The current World Health Organization recommendation for maximum allowable arsenic concentration in drinking water is 10 µg/L. In the United States, the current maximum allowable level of arsenic in municipal drinking water is 10 µg/L. The current Bangladesh drinking water standard for arsenic is 50 µg/L.

Arsenic in Irrigation Water

As a result of irrigation, arsenic is brought from the subsurface to the soil surface. An increase in arsenic concentration in the soil surface, as a result of irrigation, can detrimentally impact crop growth and is a source of entry of arsenic to the food chain.