Is Arsenic the Worst Chemical in the World?

‘ “Arsenic is the number one environmental chemical for human health,” Joshua Hamilton tells me during a recent phone call. We’re talking about his latest research, a just-published study in PLoS ONE which found that this naturally occuring poison causes harm in an astonishingly small dose — 10 parts per billion.Hamilton’s study looked at arsenic’s effect on mother mice and their offspring. But he chose the 10 ppb dose for a very human reason. It’s the safety standard the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets for arsenic in drinking water. Why does EPA need such a standard? Because an estimated 25 million Americans mostly on private well systems drink water contaminated by arsenic-rich bedrock. I’ve put an arsenic map of the United States at the top of the post. Note that micrograms per liter is the same thing as parts per billion. This tells you that a lot of private wells — which are not held to public water supply regulations — run above the EPA standard.’ (Wired Science)

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