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Jan 26, 2012

Arsenic Exposure Increases One's Risk for Cancer

People exposed to high levels of arsenic in their drinking water in Chile in the 1950's and 1960's are showing a higher that normal risk for bladder cancer.  Drinking water in the region became contaminated with high levels of arsenic due to a combination of factors: naturally high arsenic levels in the environment, heavy mining and a move to make two rivers the area's main drinking-water sources.  Arsenic concentrations reached 800 to 900 mcg/L -- far above the current limit of 10 mcg/L recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The arsenic concentrations reached 800 to 900 mcg/L much higher than the current limit of 10 mcg/L recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Bladder cancer appears in higher rates in individuals who are exposed to arsenic in their childhood.  These individuals are also getting bladder cancer at an early age in the 50's or 60's.  Researchers have estimated that about 140 million people worldwide drink water with arsenic levels above 10 mcg/L.  No one is completely sure that arsenic levels at 10 mcg/L or lower are safe.  It's estimated that 13 million Americans live in areas where the public water supply exceeds that threshold. And unregulated private wells might also contain too much arsenic -- particularly in certain areas of the West, Midwest and New England where the groundwater contains high concentrations of the toxic metal.  This is why everyone should have their water tested for arsenic.