Arsenic is incredibly toxic to human health and must be closely monitored, it is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of several countries. In general arsenic is known to be a problem is certain geographical areas.
Arsenic poisoning can be acute or chronic. A large amount of arsenic consumed in a short space of time can result in acute poisoning. Whereas, chronic arsenic poisoning occurs when small amounts of arsenic build up over time and become toxic. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning include organ failure, nerve damage and skin scaling. Being listed on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) 10 chemicals of major public health concern arsenic is a major priority for governments worldwide.
Arsenic can be present in a variety of applications including drinking water and wastewater, below we outline where you may find arsenic and why it should be monitored.
Monitoring of arsenic is a primary interest for drinking water suppliers because of its toxic nature. The most common cause of long-term arsenic poisoning is contaminated drinking water.
Many countries across the globe set limits for the amount of arsenic permitted in drinking water, usually 10 µg/L (WHO guidelines). The DWI also states that the maximum concentration for arsenic in drinking water is 10 µg/L.
Palintest worked with RISE, a student led organisation, on a project in rural China to remove high levels of arsenic from drinking water using bio-sand filters. To find out more about their award-winning project and how Palintest supported their work, click here.
Arsenic in a non-toxic, organic form, is often added to swine and poultry feed to promote growth and combat disease. Due to the way rice is grown in paddy fields, sitting in groundwater, rice commonly has quite a high concentration of arsenic.
Many food and beverage manufacturers are required to state the arsenic content of their products to help limit consumers exposure. The FDA monitors and regulates levels of arsenic in certain foods. They have issued draft guidance that infant rice cereal should not contain more than 100 µg/L arsenic. To find out more about the FDA’s regulations and guidance on arsenic in food click here.
Arsenic is commonly used in industrial manufacturing processes to manufacture batteries and electrical components. Most toxins that are regulated in drinking water are also monitored in wastewater effluents. For acceptable levels of arsenic in wastewater it is generally advised to follow guidance from the Water Framework Directive or Drinking Water Regulations.
Historically, arsenic was also used in wood treatment chemicals and pesticides although its use in these industries has declined rapidly.
Palintest offers both visual and digital methods for arsenic testing. The VCDK Visual Arsenic Testing Kit is a simple visual test kit providing rapid arsenic test results, enabling contamination to be identified in rural communities. The kit has been designed for field use with a lightweight case.
The Digital Arsenic Test Kit enables accurate and safe field measurements of arsenic. It comes in a comprehensive field kit and confirms the safety of drinking water supplies in 20 minutes, ensuring safe drinking water in rural communities. The digital arsenic test kit has sensitivity down to 2 parts per billion, exceeding the WHO guidelines of 10 ppb in drinking water.
For more complex testing needs the Digital Arsenic Test Kit is also available as part of the Wagtech™ Potalab+, the ultimate portable water quality laboratory. Ideally suited to longer term surveillance and professional monitoring, the Wagtech™ Potalab+ has been designed to determine the safety of drinking water sources on site, working in remote locations away from laboratories.