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      How Safe is Your Drinking Water?  >  Contamination resulting from corrosion of pipes and natural elements  >  Mercury and Arsenic

Contamination resulting from corrosion of pipes and natural elements - Mercury and Arsenic

As water passes over soil in its natural cycle, it carries sediments and mineral deposits. Soil and rocks erode over time, releasing more minerals into the water. Included among the sediments of soil erosion are some harmless minerals like calcium, magnesium, or potassium. Some of the more worrisome soil deposits are mercury and arsenic. Mercury and arsenic can both have a presence in drinking water; these chemicals are extremely dangerous to the body.

Mercury is a liquid metal found in natural deposits of ores. Mercury is unique among metals because of its ability to evaporate in soil or water. Though the most common source of mercury in drinking water is natural erosion of soil and ore deposits, runoff from factories and refineries can leak mercury into surface water sources (Rail, 2000). Short-term exposure to mercury in drinking water can result in kidney damage, while a lifetime of exposure can lead to impairments in neurological functioning.

Arsenic is a chemical poison that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It makes its way into drinking water sources as soil and rocks erode, releasing arsenic into the water (Rail, 2000). Used in glass and electronics production, arsenic can also make its way into water sources through factory chemical waste. Exposure to arsenic can cause damage to the skin or problems with the circulatory system. Arsenic has also been linked to several types of cancer. For pregnant women, intake of drinking water containing arsenic can result in low birth weight or premature birth for their newborn babies. Arsenic is linked to stillbirth and spontaneous abortion, as well.

Though the EPA regulates the presence of arsenic and mercury in drinking water, it cannot ensure that water is entirely free from these dangerous chemicals. Mercury and arsenic continue to maintain presence in municipally treated water.

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How Safe is Your Drinking Water?
• Introduction - The Value of Drinking Water
• Groundwater and Surface Water
• Herbicides and Insecticides - History & Occurrence
• Herbicides and Insecticides - Specific Chemicals and Health Effects
• Nitrate
• Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
• Chlorine
• Chlorine Byproducts
• Fluoride - Recent Discoveries
• Fluoride - Adverse Health Effects
• Lead
• Mercury and Arsenic
• Bacteria and Viruses
• Protozoa
• Human and Animal Feces
• Conclusion - The Importance of Drinking Filtered Water
• References
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