Arsenic on Tap

Water ArsenicAmbience: Women at wellThe sounds of women gathering water at a well in Africa. It’s a scene that’s’ repeated everyday in countless locations worldwide, where people are being poisoned by naturally occurring toxins in their drinking water. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schreiber: Arsenic is both a toxin, so, it causes disease, and it’s also a carcinogen so, it causes cancer. So, it’s pretty nasty, and it’s nasty at low concentrations.Geoscientist Madeline Schreiber has been studying the effects of Arsenic in watersheds around the world.Schreiber: Right now, the drinking water standard in the United States is 10 parts per billion. There are people that argue that that standard is too high, that it actually should be lower because arsenic is such a potent carcinogen. Most of the major problems of arsenic contamination of groundwater are from naturally occurring sources, which makes it even more difficult because it’s not like there’s really a human source behind it. The worst scenario right now is in South and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh was the first case of really massive, widespread arsenic poisoning. There’s probably ten million wells in Bangladeshi that can potentially have high arsenic in it. It’s overwhelming. So there have been a number of different methods that have been used to provide arsenic-safe water, including standard things, like household filtration. There is a system in Bangladesh. It’s a called a three-bucket, system, where you can put materials, like sand and iron oxides in these buckets, pour the water through; the arsenic will adsorb to the iron oxides, and the sand helps to prevent bacterial contamination. So, household filtration is a very common method for providing arsenic-safe water.Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Arsenic on Tap

Around the world, people are being poisoned by naturally occurring toxins in drinking water.
Air Date:11/22/2019
Scientist:
Transcript:

Water ArsenicAmbience: Women at wellThe sounds of women gathering water at a well in Africa. It's a scene that's' repeated everyday in countless locations worldwide, where people are being poisoned by naturally occurring toxins in their drinking water. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Schreiber: Arsenic is both a toxin, so, it causes disease, and it's also a carcinogen so, it causes cancer. So, it's pretty nasty, and it's nasty at low concentrations.Geoscientist Madeline Schreiber has been studying the effects of Arsenic in watersheds around the world.Schreiber: Right now, the drinking water standard in the United States is 10 parts per billion. There are people that argue that that standard is too high, that it actually should be lower because arsenic is such a potent carcinogen. Most of the major problems of arsenic contamination of groundwater are from naturally occurring sources, which makes it even more difficult because it's not like there's really a human source behind it. The worst scenario right now is in South and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh was the first case of really massive, widespread arsenic poisoning. There's probably ten million wells in Bangladeshi that can potentially have high arsenic in it. It's overwhelming. So there have been a number of different methods that have been used to provide arsenic-safe water, including standard things, like household filtration. There is a system in Bangladesh. It's a called a three-bucket, system, where you can put materials, like sand and iron oxides in these buckets, pour the water through; the arsenic will adsorb to the iron oxides, and the sand helps to prevent bacterial contamination. So, household filtration is a very common method for providing arsenic-safe water.Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.