Do you know what arsenic is? Arsenic is the type of natural sources that comes from the earth’s crust and at the moment has already distributed throughout the environment, whether it is in air, water, and land. But, the main problem is that the inorganic arsenic, which you could find in water, air, and land, are highly poisonous for human being.
Sources of Arsenic Exposure
Before you know all of the health risks of arsenic, it is wise if firstly, you know the main sources of the arsenic exposure, so that you will be familiar with the arsenic. Here are the sources of arsenic exposure.
- Drinking Water and Eating Foods. This is the main source of the arsenic exposure in a human. Right at the moment, the groundwater that being used as the main beverage in several countries has already contaminated with the inorganic arsenic, which will be harmful for health in the future. In addition to that, fish, shrimp, and any other seafood could also become the dietary exposure of arsenic, although the levels of exposure from these foods are much lower than the exposure levels from the groundwater.
- Tobacco. People who are smoking will be more likely to suffer from the health risks associated with the exposure of arsenic. Several compounds of tobacco have the natural source of inorganic arsenic. This is because the tobacco plants essentially will suck up the groundwater that already contaminated with arsenic from the soil. Also, the tobacco plant that treated with arsenate insecticide will be the reason why the smokers will be very prone to the health risks associated with arsenic.
- Industrial Processes. Do you know that the arsenic is widely used as the alloying agent in many industrial factories? Yes, the arsenic is also widely used in the processing of glass, papers, textiles, wood preservatives, and ammunition. In addition to that, arsenic is also being used in pharmaceutical industries.
So, after you know all of the main sources of arsenic exposure, now you need to know all of the health risks that commonly associated with the exposure of arsenic in the daily life. Here are the health risks of the arsenic exposure.
The first health risk that would be more likely to occur whenever you have the mild or moderate exposure of arsenic is acne. So, acne is the condition whenever your skin follicle is blocked by various kinds of bacteria, dirt, and oil. What is the connection between acne and excessive exposure of arsenic?
Whenever you have the prolonged exposure of arsenic, there is no doubt that the harmful toxins will either stick in your skin or going into your body directly. Whenever the harmful toxins from arsenic stick in the skin’s follicle in a several periods of time, it will block the skin pore and whenever the harmful toxins have the interaction with the sebum, there is no doubt that acne would be more likely to occur.
Another health risks whenever you have the excessive exposure of arsenic is swelling in your skin. Swelling is the condition whenever the specific part of your body enlarge. Swelling will be more likely to occur whenever there is an inflammation inside the body. Since the excessive exposure of arsenic could make some inflammations in your organ due to the hazardous chemicals, there is no surprise that arsenic would lead you to swelling. Aside from that, according to many studies, the direct contact in the skin from the high concentration from the inorganic arsenic compounds would cause a swelling in some parts of the skin.
- Skin Rash and Redness
Aside from swelling and acne, there is another health risk related to your skin that would be occurred from the high concentrations of arsenic compounds, which is the skin rash and redness. So, a rash is a noticeable change in texture or color in your skin, which will make your body become itchy or even irritated.
For the information, the main causes of the skin rash is a contact dermatitis, which is the condition whenever your skin have the direct contact with foreign substances that causes the adverse reaction. On of the foreign substances that can lead you to skin rash is the inorganic arsenic. So, there is no doubt that the direct contact in your skin with the high concentration of inorganic arsenic compounds would lead you to skin rash.
There is no doubt that the constant exposure of arsenic would cause diarrhea. Diarrhea is the condition that you have the frequent bowel movement and also have a watery stool. The question is, what is the connection between the exposure of arsenic and diarrhea?
So, many studies have already evidenced in animals that the exposure of the arsenic can make them suffer from diarrhea. They believed that one of the compounds in the organic arsenic called methyl could be the main cause of diarrhea in animals and they also believed that the same effects would be more likely to happen to human too. The ingestion of methyl in organic arsenic is the main factors of diarrhea.
Whenever you have the excessive exposure of arsenic, especially the organic arsenic, there is no doubt that you will be more likely to suffer from vomiting. For example, whenever you have the excessive consumption of ground water or fish, shrimp, and any other seafood that have already contaminated with arsenic, there is no doubt that you will some discomforts in your abdominal area and thus, you will be more likely to have some problem with the health of the intestine and can lead you to vomiting and nausea too.
- Kidney Damage
The serious health risk that would be more likely to happen whenever you have the excessive exposure of arsenic is the kidney damage. Whenever you have the infrequent exposure of methyl compounds of organic arsenic, you will suffer from diarrhea. But, if you have the lifetime exposure of methyl compounds from organic arsenic, you will suffer from kidney damage.
So, many studies have already evidenced that the excessive exposure of arsenic would lead you to kidney damage. According to them, the prolonged or the excessive exposure of the methyl compounds from organic arsenic would lead you to kidney damage. Aside from that, the excessive exposure of arsenic means that there are a lot of toxins or hazardous chemicals that come into your kidneys, which then will make the kidneys lose the ability to filter the waste from your blood properly.
- Urinary Bladder Damage
Aside from the kidney damage, the excessive exposure of the arsenic would also lead you to the urinary bladder damage. So, what is the connection between the exposure of arsenic and the urinary bladder damage? Since the excessive exposure of dimethyl compounds from organic arsenic would cause the kidney damage, there is no doubt that the stone could form in the kidneys. So, the stone then will travel down to the ureters, which then will block the ureters or the tube that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. As the result, there is no doubt that you will be more likely to suffer from the urinary bladder damage.
- Sore Throat
Another health risk that would be more likely to occur to you whenever you’re having the mild or moderate exposure of arsenic is the sore throat. So, sore throat is the condition whenever there are some pain, itchiness, or irritation in your throat and as the result, you will have some problems whenever you swallow the foods. While most of the case of sore throat is caused by bacterial or viral infections, but sore throat could be occurred by the environmental factors too. In the matter of fact, many studies have already evidenced that breathe the high levels of inorganic arsenic, about around 100 micrograms of arsenic per cubic meter would lead you to sore throat.
- Sudden Fatigue
Another health risk that would be more likely to occur whenever you have the excessive consumption of arsenic is the sudden fatigue. So, fatigue is the condition that commonly described as the extreme tiredness. The excessive exposure of arsenic could lead you to this disease because the inorganic arsenic, if you’re swallowing them, will lead to the decrease production of red and white blood cells in the body.
The decrease amount of red and white blood cells in the body, of course, will disrupt the supply of oxygen-rich blood to all of the parts of the body, which then without a doubt would lead you to the sudden fatigue although you don’t have enough physical activity at all.
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm
Another health risk related to your organs as the effects of excessive exposure of arsenic is the abnormal heart rhythm. Abnormal heart rhythm is teh condition whenever the heart beat of your heart is too slow, too fast, or irregular. The connection between abnormal hearth rhythm and arsenic still need the further research.
So, although the direct mechanism on why the abnormal heart rhythm could happen whenever you have the excessive exposure of the arsenic is still unclear and need further research, but many health experts believed that the decreased amount of red and white blood cells due to the excessive swallow of inorganic arsenic plays an important role of the development of abnormal heart rhythm. Since a simple habit like smoking can lead you to this condition, there is no doubt that the hazardous chemicals and toxins from the arsenic that come into your body would lead you to the abnormal heart rhythm.
- Peripheral Neuropathy
This disease will also be more likely to happen to you whenever you have the excessive exposure to arsenic. So, peripheral neuropathy is the condition whenever the nerves around your feet, arms, hands, legs, internal organs, mouth, or face malfunction because they are damaged. This condition will lead to the fake signal from your nerves and they could send the signal of pain although there’s nothing that causing the pain. Many studies have already evidenced that the prolonged exposure of lower concentrations of arsenic can lead you to peripheral nervous disorders, including peripheral neurophaty.
There is also a suggestion that the excessive exposure of arsenic would potentially lead you to the life-threatening disease such as gangrene. Gangrene is the condition whenever parts of the body tissue dies. That condition because your body couldn’t get enough blood from the circulatory system.
Although the connection between the excessive exposure of arsenic and gangrene is still unclear due to the lack of scientific evidence, but researchers in China have already evidenced that the exposure of arsenic will lead to the ‘blackfoot disease’, which is the blood vessel damage, which then will cause the gangrene. Aside from that, the fact that the exposure of arsenic could decrease the production of the blood cells in the body, the possibility of developing this disease in a person who have longer exposure of arsenic would be higher.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The next health risk that without a doubt would be more likely to occur to you is the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the matter of fact, COPD ranked fourth in the US for the leading cause of death in that country. COPD is the progressive lung disease that will make you become difficult to breath. According to many health experts, the excessive exposure of the inorganic arsenic would cause the pulmonary disease, including COPD. So, when you breathe the inorganic arsenic, that gas from arsenic can cause the inflammation and also irritation in the airways of the lung, which then without a doubt will lead you to COPD.
- Mental Retardation
This is one of the serious condition that would occur to a child whenever he/she has the excessive exposure of arsenic in a long time. So, mental retardation is the condition whenever the children’s brain doesn’t develop properly. According to many helath experts, the long-term exposure of arsenic could be associated with the developmental effects, which is the mental retardation.
In the matter of fact, one of the main causes of the mental retardation is lead, mercury, or arsenic poisoning that will affect the children’s brain. Although the diagnose whether the children have mental retardation or not is hard to detect, but almost all cases of mental retardation are diagnosed by the time the children reaches the age of 18.
- Growth Retardation
Aside from the mental retardation, the long-term exposure of inorganic arsenic around pregnant women could increase the risk of growth retardation among their fetus. So, growth retardation occurs whenever the fetus doesn’t develop at the normal rate, which also commonly called as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). There are thwo forms of IUGR, which are symmetrical and asymmetrical.
Children with the symmetrical IUGR have the proportional body, but their size is much smaller compared with the normal child. Meanwhile, the children with asymmetrical IUGR have a normal sized head, but their body is smaller than they should be. Health experts also suggest that this condition could also happen because of the chronic kidney damage and respiratory disease around the pregnant women, which is commonly linked with the adverse health effects of the excessive exposure of arsenic.
- Skin Cancer
Health Risks of Arsenic could be main cause skin cancer. If the mild or moderate exposure of inorganic arsenic could cause minor health problem such as acne or skin rash, but the long-term exposure of arsenic will lead you to the skin cancer. In the matter of fact, one of the main causes of skin cancer is the exposure of certain substances, such as arsenic compounds or radium compounds. So, for the information, the inorganic arsenic is classified as carcinogenic for human and also have already been recognized as a human poison since a long time ago.
In addition to that, if you have already skin rash and acne and you still have the excessive exposure of inorganic arsenic, there is no doubt that those skin rash and acne could be the precursors of skin cancer.
- Heart Failure
The next serious health risk that would be more likely to happen to you whenever you have the excessive exposure of arsenic is the heart failure. Heart failure is the condition that occurs whenever your heart couldn’t pump enough blood to the other parts of the body, which then of course will lead you to the health complications in many parts of the body.
So, as you already know, the excessive exposure of inorganic arsenic could lead to the decrease amount of the production of red and white blood cells in the body. This condition, without a doubt would make the supply of oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the other parts of the body would be decreased too. As the result, the heart couldn’t pump the sufficient enough amount of blood, which then will lead you to heart failure.
- Lung Cancer
There is no doubt that the excessive exposure of arsenic would lead you to the lung cancer. So, lung cancer is the condition that caused by the mutation in the DNA. According to the health experts, workers who are exposed the inorganic arsenic at smelters, mines, or people who live near smelters or arsenical chemicals factories are very prone to have the lung cancer. So, when the cells reproduce, they will divide themselves and form the identical cells so that your body will constantly renewing itself. Inhaling the excessive amount of arsenic would make some damages to the cells that line the lungs. As the result, they will grow uncontrollably and lead you to the lung cancer.
- Bladder Cancer
Aside from the lung cancer, the excessive exposure of arsenic would lead you to the bladder cancer. Many researches have already concluded that the organic or inorganic arsenic are classified as carcinogenic for human, which will lead you to the cancer, especially bladder cancer. The most obvious symptoms that you have the bladder cancer is whenever you have the blood in the urine without any pain at all. So, the constant exposure of the arsenic would make some damage to the cells that line the bladder and they will start to grow uncontrollably too, which will increase the cance of having the bladder cancer in the future.
This is the most serious health complications that you could get whenever you have the long-term exposure of arsenic. As you already know, the inorganic arsenic is widely known and already classified as the human poison since the long time ago. In the matter of fact, according to the health experts, the large oral dose of arsenic, about 60,000 ppb in water which is 10,000 times higher than the US drinking water arsenic levels, could lead people to death. So, you need to watch out the consumption of the mineral water, especially if you’re consuming it directly from the ground water.
How to Prevent Arsenic
So, after you already know all of the health risks associated with the excessive exposure of arsenic, we bet that you also want to know how to reduce the exposure of arsenic in your life. So, here are the tips that you need to do in order to avoid or reduce the exposure of arsenic in your daily life.
- Install arsenic removal systems. Nowadays, the technologies of the arsenic removal, such as oxidation, coagulation, absorptiom, ion exchange, and membrane exchange are already available. Those are the effective techniques to remove the arsenic level from small and household supplies, although the evidence which the techniques have the better effectiveness is still unclear until right at the moment.
- Substitute the high-arsenic sources. The thing that you need to do to reduce the arsenic exposure levels in your daily life is changing the sources that have the high-arsenic levels such as groundwater to the low-arsenic levels. The source of the low-arsenic levels are rain water or treated surface water, which can be used to cook, drink, and irrigation purposes. As the result, you will be safe from the health risks of arsenic that already mentioned above.
- Mix the high-arsenic water with the low-arsenic water. If you want to stay safe and reduce the possibility of having the health risks of arsenic exposure, one thing that you need to do is mixing the high-arsenic water with the low-arsenic water. That mixture will result the acceptable amount of arsenic levels that your body can still tolerate and will not be harmful for your health in the future.
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So, now you already know all of the health risks of arsenic exposure and also the tips how to reduce the exposure of arsenic levels. Since these natural sources are very harmful for your health, you need to watch out carefully, especially if you’re consuming the groundwater frequently. Stay healthy!