Welcome Employees

A password is required to submit a request for an internal transfer. In order to obtain the password you can check any of the following resources: Login to the employee portal, check the current issue of "Regional High Points" newsletter, contact HR, or read this week's "Daily Announcements".

 

Close

Arsenic in Well Water Tied to Less Brain Power in U.S. Study

2014-Apr-08

TUESDAY, April 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to arsenic in well water may lead to lower scores on intelligence tests, according to a study of children in Maine.

Arsenic is a natural element that is found in soil and minerals, however, it can cause many health problems, and high levels of exposure can even cause death.

Previous research in South Asia showed that exposure to arsenic in drinking water harms children's intelligence, but this study is the first to look at the issue in the United States.

The new study included 272 children in grades 3 through 5 who were given a standard intelligence test. The youngsters lived in three school districts in Maine where household wells are the main source for drinking and cooking water.

The investigators found that exposure to arsenic in well water was associated with lower intelligence scores. However, this link does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Specifically, children exposed to well water with arsenic levels of 5 parts per billion showed significant declines in intelligence that could result in problems in the classroom, the study authors reported in the April 1 online edition of the journal Environmental Health.

In the study, the average water arsenic levels were 9.88 micrograms per liter (mcg/L), and nearly one-third of samples exceeded the maximum 10 mcg/L guideline of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization. The highest level was 115.3 mcg/L.

The strength of the link between arsenic and lower intelligence is similar to that seen with lead, which is known to reduce intelligence, according to study leader Joseph Graziano, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University.

"Even though purchasing a standard filter at the hardware store is inadequate for treating well water, the good news is that there are steps one can take to ameliorate the situation," Graziano said in a university news release.

Installing what's known as a "reverse osmosis system" can lessen the effects of arsenic in drinking water, he said, although it is costly to do so. Education programs about arsenic exposure are being offered to families in the Maine school districts that were included in the study, Graziano added.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/arsenic/index.cfm.

Copyright © 2014 http://www.healthday.com/. All rights reserved.

The information in this article, including reference materials, are provided to you solely for educational or research purposes. Information in reference materials, are not and should not be considered professional health care advice upon which you should rely. Health care information changes rapidly and consequently, information in this article may be out of date. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.