Arsenic is a toxic element that can be found in many sources, including the water we drink. Although it is naturally occurring, exposure to arsenic at high levels can cause various health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and skin lesions. Business owners throughout Michigan need to understand the risks associated with arsenic in Michigan tap water, especially if that water is the only source of employee drinking water.
So, here’s why arsenic in your water should concern you and what can be done to ensure safe drinking water for your employees. When you’re ready for a better drinking water solution, let Artesian Bottleless Water be your call!
What is Arsenic and Where Does it Come From?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring semi-metallic element. It is found in various forms and can exist in an organic or inorganic state. Organic arsenic compounds, typically found in certain types of seafood, are less harmful to our health. However, the inorganic compounds, often detected in groundwater, are highly toxic and pose a significant health risk.
Arsenic originates from the Earth’s crust and can make its way into groundwater sources through the natural weathering and erosion of rocks and minerals. It is also released into the environment through industrial processes and agricultural activities, particularly in the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers. As a result, arsenic can be present in soil, water, and even the air we breathe. Understanding arsenic’s origins is the first step in mitigating its potential health risks.
Regulating and Monitoring Arsenic in Water Sources
In the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the key federal law that ensures the quality of Americans’ drinking water. Under SDWA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with setting standards for drinking water quality, and its regulations cover arsenic among other contaminants.
The EPA’s regulation for arsenic in drinking water, set at 10 parts per billion (ppb), is rigorously enforced. Water suppliers are required to routinely test their water sources and if arsenic levels exceed the set limit, immediate action must be taken. Corrective measures include treating the water to remove arsenic, sourcing water from a different supply, or providing alternative sources of drinking water.
To ensure transparency and awareness, water suppliers must provide consumers with an annual water quality report, also known as a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This CCR includes information on the water’s source, the levels of any detected contaminants (including arsenic), and compliance with drinking water regulations.
In addition, consumers can request their water be tested by a state-certified laboratory if they suspect their water may have high levels of arsenic. This proactive step can safeguard health and give peace of mind. With these regulations and monitoring practices, the goal is to minimize the public’s exposure to arsenic and other contaminants, thus protecting overall health.
The Impact of Arsenic Exposure on Employee Health
Exposure to arsenic, particularly through contaminated drinking water, has been associated with a myriad of health complications. These range from immediate effects to long-term chronic conditions that can drastically affect an individual’s quality of life and productivity, which in turn impacts a company’s overall performance.
In the short term, employees exposed to arsenic may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms are not only unpleasant, but they also lead to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity in the workplace. Moreover, prolonged exposure to arsenic in drinking water has been linked with more severe health conditions. These include skin disorders, such as hyperkeratosis and pigmentation changes, which can cause psychological distress and may also impact an employee’s interaction with customers or clients.
Furthermore, continuous ingestion of arsenic-contaminated water can lead to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Notably, arsenic is a recognized carcinogen, and exposure to it significantly increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including skin, bladder, and lung cancers. Therefore, the long-term health implications of arsenic exposure can lead to increased healthcare costs for your business, not to mention the human cost in terms of employee wellbeing.
As an employer, safeguarding the health of your employees is not only a moral imperative but also contributes to the success of your business by reducing absenteeism and healthcare costs. Ensuring a safe, arsenic-free drinking water supply is a significant step in this direction.
Mitigating Arsenic in Your Business’s Tap Water: What You Can Do
Ensuring that your employees have access to safe, arsenic-free water here in Michigan is paramount to their health and to the productivity of your business. Thankfully, there are several effective steps that you can take to reduce the arsenic levels in your tap water.
Water Testing: Regular testing of your water supply is crucial. State-certified laboratories can conduct this testing and provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your water’s safety. If arsenic levels exceed the EPA’s set limit, immediate action must be taken.
Treatment Systems: There are different types of treatment systems available for removing arsenic from water, including reverse osmosis, distillation, and adsorption filters. The choice of system will depend on several factors, such as the level of arsenic in the water, the volume of water to be treated, and your budget. It’s advisable to consult with a water treatment professional to ensure the most effective system is chosen for your specific needs.
Educate Employees: Empower your employees with knowledge about the risks of arsenic and the measures you’re taking to ensure their safety. This transparency can boost morale and reinforce your commitment to their wellbeing.
Stay Updated: Water quality regulations and recommendations can change over time, so it’s important to stay informed. Regularly check in with your local water authority and the EPA for updates.
Don’t Risk it with Arsenic
Arsenic in Michigan tap water can have severe health effects on employees and negatively impact business operations and reputation. Business owners throughout the state should address the issue proactively to ensure compliance with regulations, maintain their organization’s reputation, and protect the health of their employees.
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