So what is arsenic?
Arsenic being odourless and tasteless is a semi-metal element in the periodic table. Generally arsenic enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices. Arsenic is used as a wood preservative and can be used in metals, paints, dyes, drugs, soaps, and semi-conductors.
What are arsenic's health effects?
The immediate symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. These are generally followed by numbness and tingling of the extremities, muscle cramping and in extreme cases, death.
The long term affects of arsenic exposure (through drinking water) can cause skin damage or problems with the circulatory system while increasing the risk of getting skin cancer, cancer of the bladder and lungs. It has also been associated with developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
Magnitude of the problem
There are a number of regions where arsenic contamination of drinking-water is significant. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is widespread!