What is arsenic?
Arsenic in ground water is largely the result of minerals dissolving naturally from weathered rocks and soils, but contamination can also be a result of manufacturing processes and some pesticide use.
Is there arsenic in Bernalillo County's water?
Drinking water from both private and public water supplies in the Bernalillo County area may contain some levels of arsenic. Depending on private or public well depths and locations, arsenic levels can range from non-detectable to over 50 ppb. For further information about arsenic, private well owners can call the Bernalillo County Office of Environmental Health at 314-0310; City of Albuquerque water users can call 857-8260.
What are some of the heath effects of arsenic exposure?
Studies have shown that long-term exposure to elevated concentrations of arsenic in drinking water can lead to cancerous and non-cancerous health effects. Cancerous effects include cancers of the skin, bladder, lung, and prostate. Non-cancerous health effects include effects on the skin, gastrointestinal system, and cardiovascular system among others. Some health effects and consequences of arsenic ingestion remain unclear and should be examined more thoroughly.
How will the new arsenic level affect our community?
To protect human health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reduced the standard for the amount of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb. All public water systems are mandated to comply with federal regulations. A public (community) water system is a system that serves 15 locations or 25 residents year-round. The City of Albuquerque estimates that there will be a significant cost associated with the new standard, which all users of the City of Albuquerque water supply will bear.
If you are a private well owner, we recommend that you test your well on an annual basis for contaminants. The BCOEH can refer you to a certified testing laboratory. If you use a private water supply, you can purchase a drinking water treatment system. Please note that most drinking water treatment systems only remove a limited number of contaminants, so be sure to thoroughly investigate a treatment unit before making a purchasing decision.
Where can I obtain more information?
Contact the Bernalillo County Office of Environmental Health at 314-0310