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Arsenic in Drinking Water Around Tampa Bay, Florida


Arsenic is a natural element found in rocks, soil, water, plants, and animals. It can get into water through natural deposits, runoff from orchards, or discharges from some mining, glass, and electronics plants.

In small amounts, arsenic is harmless and even beneficial to humans. However, at high levels over long periods, arsenic is a poison that increases the risk of lung, bladder, and skin cancer, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the arsenic standard for drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb) to balance the current understanding of arsenic's possible health effects against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water.

Presence of Arsenic in Tampa Bay's Drinking Water

According to the Florida Department of Health, arsenic has been detected in drinking water supplies across the state, including in counties around Tampa Bay like Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando.

Levels tend to be higher in groundwater drawn from the Floridan Aquifer compared to treated surface water. Private wells are especially concerning, since they are not regulated like public drinking water systems.

Some specific areas around Tampa Bay with known arsenic contamination include:

Pinellas County

  • Oldsmar

  • Palm Harbor

  • Tarpon Springs

  • Dunedin

Hillsborough County

  • Plant City

  • Lithia

  • Gibsonton

  • Apollo Beach

Pasco County

  • Zephyrhills

  • New Port Richey

  • Holiday

Health Concerns of Arsenic Exposure

Arsenic is a toxic element that can have serious health effects on humans when ingested or absorbed over time. The health effects of arsenic exposure can vary depending on the duration and concentration of exposure. Here are some of the potential health effects of arsenic:

  1. Cancer: Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic in drinking water has been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancer, including skin, lung, bladder, and kidney cancer. Inorganic arsenic, which is more toxic than organic forms, is considered a known human carcinogen.

  2. Skin Lesions: Prolonged exposure to lower levels of arsenic can cause skin changes such as darkening and thickening of the skin, as well as the development of small warts or corn-like growths on the palms, soles, and torso. These skin lesions are often considered an early sign of chronic arsenic exposure.

  3. Cardiovascular Effects: Arsenic exposure has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks.

  4. Neurological Effects: Chronic exposure to arsenic may lead to neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, which involves tingling, numbness, and pain in the extremities. Long-term exposure can also impact cognitive function and memory.

  5. Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of arsenic-containing dust or fumes can lead to respiratory problems, including irritation of the respiratory tract and an increased risk of lung diseases.

  6. Digestive System Disorders: Ingesting high levels of arsenic over an extended period can result in digestive issues such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

  7. Developmental Effects: Arsenic exposure during pregnancy can have harmful effects on fetal development. It may lead to low birth weight, developmental delays, and an increased risk of infant mortality.

  8. Immune System Suppression: Arsenic exposure has been associated with immune system dysfunction, which can make individuals more susceptible to infections and other health problems.

  9. Endocrine Disruption: Some studies suggest that arsenic exposure might interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system, potentially leading to hormonal imbalances and related health issues.

It's important to note that the health effects of arsenic depend on factors such as the concentration of arsenic, the duration of exposure, and individual susceptibility. Drinking water with arsenic levels above recommended standards is a significant concern, particularly in areas where natural sources of arsenic are present in groundwater. Proper water treatment and adherence to regulatory guidelines are crucial to minimizing arsenic exposure and its associated health risks.

For those on private wells with arsenic levels above 10 ppb, the risk of bladder and lung cancer is estimated to increase by over 50 times compared to the general population. Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible.

Even low levels below the EPA standard may still pose some health risks if consumed for many years. That's why testing and treatment are recommended even for small amounts.

Water Treatment Solutions for Arsenic

To remove arsenic from drinking water, several effective treatment options exist:

  • AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System - Reverse osmosis (RO) uses a semi-permeable membrane to block particles like arsenic while allowing water molecules to pass through. RO removes over 99% of arsenic and is one of the most thorough residential treatment solutions.

  • AquaBlue Whole House Filter - Whole house filtration uses a centralized system to treat all water entering a home. Special arsenic removal media like activated alumina can reduce arsenic to undetectable levels.

  • AquaLux Water Softener - Some arsenic removal systems like anion exchange softeners use a resin bed to attract and bind arsenic ions. They can lower arsenic to around 5 ppb.

  • WellFusion Well Water Treatment - Combination systems with filtration and disinfection tailored for well water provide a comprehensive solution for arsenic and other well water contaminants.

The most appropriate treatment system depends on the home, water usage, contamination levels, and budget. A professional water analysis and consultation is recommended to identify the optimal arsenic removal plan.

Call to Action

Arsenic contamination can happen even at low levels, so testing and treatment are essential. Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions provides full-service water testing and custom systems to eliminate arsenic and other harmful contaminants.

Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161

Reliable water quality is vital for your home and health. Contact the experts at Aqua-Wise to discuss your water treatment options and take advantage of special discounts, promotions, and financing options to improve your water.


EPA - Arsenic in Drinking Water

CDC - Arsenic

Florida Department of Health - Arsenic in Drinking Water

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