Consuming an excessive amount of arsenic can cause an array of symptoms and health complications. Acute exposure can cause things like vomiting, abdominal pain, skin problems, and muscle cramping. It can even lead to death in some cases. Long term exposure also has links to skin, lung and bladder cancers, diabetes and developmental issues. If you notice any symptoms, you should book an arsenic test.
Sadly there are many ways people can consume arsenic. This includes smoking tobacco and working in industries that use or produce it. It can also be in pesticides and some pharmaceuticals.
While there are many sources of arsenic, people most often consume it because it is in groundwater. It occurs naturally in the ground and can easily find its way into the water cycle. There are some parts of the world that have a higher level as there is more in the earth in these areas. Examples include Bangladesh, China, India, and the US.
The presence in groundwater can mean there may be high levels in wells, rivers, and other sources of drinking water. It means it is likely people in these areas consume a dangerous amount of arsenic over a long period of time.
If people in these areas use contaminated water for irrigation it can also mean that crops have high arsenic levels. Rice in particular can contain a great deal because much of it is grown in high risk areas. As a result of contaminated foodstuffs, people can consume even more of it. An arsenic test is wise here.
How to tackle the problem?
It is an ongoing issue to tackle arsenic exposure in many parts of the world. This includes places where it is abundant in the ground and areas where industrial activity releases it.
The first and most vital step is to provide safe, clean water. There are a number of ways to do this, including using filtered rain and surface water for drinking, cooking, and irrigation instead of groundwater.
Unfortunately there are some locations where there isn’t sufficient rain and surface water to meet demands. Here it can be an option to mix these cleaner sources with groundwater to reduce the concentration of arsenic to a safer level.
There is also technology such as removal systems that can help. For example, there are methods that use oxidation, absorption, and ion exchange.
Improving education, engaging with communities, and tackling pollution can really help too.
Do you need to arrange an arsenic test?
We are lucky in the UK because there are controls in place to limit exposure to arsenic. These help to make sure that levels in the air, water, and food are the lowest possible.
People in the UK most commonly consume arsenic via their diet, particularly in fish. However, often this type is organic and is less harmful than inorganic varieties. As a result, it usually does not pose a serious health risk.
Arsenic can also be in chicken as it is often in commercial chicken feed. That is why choosing organic chicken is usually better.
Workplace exposure is another potential source in the UK. People who work in places like smelting plants, glass production plants and waste facilities may encounter inorganic arsenic in the air. As a result they need to take steps to limit their contact with it.
Amazingly, people can also be exposed to arsenic at home. It can be in treated carpets and upholstery, releasing into the air over time.
If you have any concerns, you should come to us to book an arsenic test. All it requires is a small hair sample, making it a painless, non-invasive type of testing. It can provide accurate results of the levels of harmful elements in your body.
You can contact us if you have any questions about arsenic exposure or hair testing. We are always pleased to help and can even go over the results of tests with you for extra support.