The Dangers of Arsenic in Drinking Water
This blog post has been edited. It was originally posted on August 12, 2014. Facts of this case may have developed or changed since the original post date. Settlements/verdicts may have been reached or are in progress.
In 2001, the EPA lowered drinking water standards for arsenic from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion despite links between arsenic, cancer and other illnesses that can be life threatening. Initially, the EPA wanted to lower the levels to five parts per billion, but increased the amount to ten after outcry from health agencies and threats of lawsuits due to risks to the public.
Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks, soil, plants and animals. It can also be released into the atmosphere after a volcanic eruption, forest fire or through the actions of humans. According to the EPA, approximately 90 percent of all industrial arsenic used in the United States is as a wood preservative, but it may appear in soaps, metals, drugs and for other applications (http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/sdwa/arsenic/regulations_factsheet.cfm). Arsenic appears more in ground water sources than in surface water sources like lakes or rivers, and is more prevalent in western states, although levels above 10 ppb can appear anywhere in the country. In fact, there are some geographic hot spots throughout the United States that have led to lawsuits and fines.
Dangers of Arsenic
Those who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the maximum contaminant level of 10 ppb for extended periods could develop skin damage or circulatory system problems. In addition, research indicates that those who ingest high amounts of arsenic over time have a higher risk of cancer than those who do not (http://water.epa.gov/drink/conaminants/basicinformation/arsenic.cfm). In 2014, a study conducted at Columbia University found that children exposed to arsenic in drinking water higher than five ppb showed reductions in the Full Scale, Working Memory, Perceptual Reasoning and Verbal Comprehension scores that could indicate problems with learning and intelligence (http://www.mailman.columbia.edu/news/us-schoolchildren-exposed-arsenic-well-water-have-lower-iq-scores). The study was conducted in three school districts in Maine, prompting some families to consider a lawsuit related to the damage caused by higher levels of arsenic.
United States Geological Survey
A study conducted by the United States Geological Survey, who reviewed tests of 45,000 wells throughout the country going back approximately 40 years, found that Texas and Minnesota had the highest incidence of arsenic above 10 ppb (http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/06/28/14963/arsenic-levels-groundwater-across-us). In 2011, the University of Texas at Arlington tested 100 private wells near the Barnett Shale region and found elevated levels of arsenic in those wells as opposed to those in other areas of the state. This has led many homeowners in the area to consider a lawsuit to reduce drilling in the area, which could cause vibrations that shake rust from older wells into the drinking water. In many cases, the rust contains arsenic (http://www.texastribune.org/2013/07/30/fracking/).
If the water in your home is supplied through a private well, and a recent test has discovered high levels of arsenic, or if you or a loved one suffers from an illness linked to high levels of arsenic, a lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation. For more information on Frenkel and Frenkel, please visit our website at www.FrenkelFirm.com.