Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in soil, water, air, food, and some medicines. Ingestion of high doses of arsenic can cause severe health issues such as liver damage, skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases, and even death. Arsenic poisoning has become a significant problem in many countries around the world. What should you do if you suspect someone has ingested arsenic?
The symptoms of arsenic toxicity vary from person to person. These include skin rashes, hair loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, kidney damage, stomach pain, etc. Drinking contaminated tap water or consuming food products grown in areas where arsenic exists in groundwater is hazardous. As we already know, the level of arsenic in drinking water varies from area to area. The contamination may have come from natural sources such as volcanic activity or artificial activities like mining.
How Does Arsenic Get Into Water?
Most of us think that only people who live near mines can get exposed to arsenic due to their proximity to the source of the contamination. However, it is essential to understand that specific industries use arsenic as part of their manufacturing process. For example, many medical devices contain arsenic, making them more durable against corrosion.
Also, there are some pesticides found on our farms that often contain arsenic. These chemicals include malathion, chlorpyrifos, methyl parathion, carbofuran, paraquat, diazinon, etc. It is always advisable to avoid consuming foods grown in regions where such agricultural activities occur.
In addition to the abovementioned sources, arsenic may be leached into groundwater by applying fertilizers in farming practices. This practice has been linked to arsenic contamination. So, when buying fertilizer, ensure that it contains no contaminants like arsenic.
Also, it is essential to note that some industrial processes also release arsenic compounds into the air. Such industries include tanneries, coal-burning power plants, and chemical factories.
Drinking Contaminated Water
It is no doubt about the fact that arsenic is toxic. However, how much is too much depends entirely upon how you react to it! If you notice any of these symptoms, you should speak to your doctor immediately. But if you don’t see any adverse effects after consuming arsenic for a prolonged period, then you must not worry.
Another way to decrease your intake of arsenic is by using bottled water instead of tap water. If possible, buy bottled mineral water because it contains fewer arsenic quantities than tap water. Even though it costs more initially, it will save you money in the long run.
Health Effects Of Arsenic Poisoning
If you look at the list of health conditions listed below, you will easily understand what are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning and you will quickly realize how harmful this toxin is:
- Skin Rash- The most common symptom associated with arsenic poisoning is the development of light red or pink spots on the skin. In severe cases, this rash can even turn dark brown.
- Hair Loss- Hair loss due to arsenic poisoning is rare. However, it happens when high concentrations of arsenic exist in the body.
- Vomiting & Diarrhea – Vomiting and diarrhea are two other common symptoms of arsenic poisoning.
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Muscle Weakness
- Eye irritation
Causes of Arsenic Poisoning
Some of the most common causes of arsenic poisoning include:
- Exposure to contaminated drinking water
- Eating foods that have been grown or raised with arsenic-contaminated soil
- Taking certain prescription drugs
Diagnosing Arsenic Poisoning
Once there’s suspicion of arsenic poisoning, your doctor will test blood levels and conduct tests to determine whether you’ve been poisoned by arsenic. Blood testing can help detect levels of arsenic, which can vary widely from person to person. Your doctor may also recommend urine testing, which detects lower levels of arsenic than blood testing.
Treatment For Arsenic Poisoning Treatment
If someone suspects they’re suffering from arsenic poisoning, their priority should be getting emergency medical care. There are several medications available to prevent and treat arsenic poisoning. These include:
- – Antibiotics like penicillin, tetracycline, and erythromycin
- – Antacid pills, like Tums, Alka-Seltzer, Rolaids, etc
- – Antihistamines
- – Pain relievers
- – Vitamin supplements
How to prevent Arsenic Poisoning
Arsenic poisoning prevention involves ensuring that you don’t drink tap water unless it’s adequately treated. You should only use bottled water when you’re away from home. When buying fruits and vegetables, look for those labeled “organic” or “100% organic.” This means the fruit or vegetable hasn’t been exposed to pesticides or fertilizers.
How to Detect Arsenic level in Tap Water or Swimming Pool?
Nowadays, many people are concerned about the safety of drinking water and swimming pools. One needs to check the pH value to know if arsenic is present in the water. The pH value of fresh water is 7.0, while the pH value of seawater is 8.2. If the pH value of river or lake water is more than 9, it contains arsenic. The same applies to the alkalinity of the water; if the pH value increases, this indicates that the water contains
Check PH Value
First, you need to measure the pH values of the water you wish to test. You can measure the pH with a meter and get the result within seconds. It is essential to note down the readings as the numbers could change depending on where you measured the water.
Second Step: Take a glass jar with an airtight seal and add some acid solution. Ensure that you do not put too much acid inside because otherwise, the water will turn acidic and become unsuitable for testing for arsenic. Add the sample water into the jar containing the acid solution.
Third Step: Shake the jar vigorously for around 10 minutes. After shaking, please remove the sample water from the jar and pour it directly onto the paper. Wait for some time so that the water drops off completely. Measure the results using a digital scale and keep the recorded numbers safe.
You might be wondering what kind of acid is suitable for testing the pH values of the samples. There are different types of acids used for testing the pH values. One choice is hydrochloric acid. Others include sulfuric acid, nitric acid, phosphoric acid, acetic acid, and citric acid. Choose the most suitable acid depending on your location and the type of water you want to test.
Another way to detect arsenic levels in water is by simply measuring the colour of the water. Different colours indicate the presence of different elements in the water. If the pH value is above 8.2, then the water has a blue tint. Sometimes even if the pH value is lower than 8.2, the water appears darker. In this case, the arsenic content is high enough to cause such effects.
The arsenic content is low if the water turns red, yellow, or orange. Since these colours indicate less arsenic, it does not mean the water is free from arsenic contamination. Instead, the color signifies that the arsenic concentration is less than 0.01 ppm.
So, please follow all the steps given above before checking the amount of arsenic in your water. Remember to carry out each step and record the resulting data correctly. Also, keep the recorded numbers safely where they cannot be tampered with.
If you notice anything suspicious, contact the local authorities immediately. They will help you deal with any issues related to arsenic contamination in your home.
To sum up, arsenic is a poison that is hard to eliminate once it enters the human body. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent people from getting exposed to arsenic. For instance, you can use bottled water to stay hydrated. Also, you should eat only organic fruits and vegetables, especially if you live near areas where arsenic-polluted waterways flow. It is also important to remember that arsenic is extremely dangerous and poisonous. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical attention immediately.