What is Arsenic?
Arsenic is “a semi- metal element that is both odorless and tasteless.” (EPA) Arsenic contamination has been linked to a series of health problems, including, but not limited to, cancer, skin thickening (or discoloration), severe stomachache, diarrhea, and partial paralysis. Arsenic can be especially harmful to pregnant women; it causes birth defects and miscarriages.
Minneapolis: An Arsenic Casualty
South Minneapolis neighborhoods are the latest casualties of arsenic contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently added the Minnesota region to the federal Superfund aid list due to more than 60 “uncontained” residential properties whose soil is rich with the toxic substance. The fear is that run-off and erosion may spread arsenic to other areas. Owing to its widespread industrial use, the dangers of arsenic pose a formidable problem, especially in the southwest region of the United States.
Although the EPA established the arsenic standard for drinking water (.010 parts per million, or 10 parts per billion), this hasn’t stopped arsenic from contaminating water supplies and soil.
The primary arsenic exposure routes are inhalation of dust, or consumption from groundwater contamination or soil contamination that affects locally grown produce.
Mining communities and the areas that surround them are most likely to have dangerously high levels of arsenic. Additionally, lumber mills use arsenic in paper and pressure-treated lumber. Copper chromated arsenate (CCA) is used to make pressure-treated lumber, and can poison people who work with it. Incredibly, CCA-treated lumber is still used in the construction of playground equipment, where it leaches out into park soil.
Where else can arsenic be found?
Arsenic “occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, and in plants and animals, and 90 percent of industrial arsenic in the United States is currently used as a wood preservative.” (EPA). Arsenic is also used as an ingredient for “paints, dyes, metals, drugs, soaps and semi- conductors.” (EPA)
The highest levels of arsenic are most often found in ground water sources, than in surface water sources, such as rivers, lakes and streams. “The demand on ground water from municipal systems and private drinking water wells, may cause the water levels to drop and release arsenic from rock formations.” (EPA)
Out of the entire United States, the highest levels of arsenic can be found in the Midwestern states, like Minnesota.
Weitz & Luxenberg: We can help you fight back
Fortunately, Weitz & Luxenberg is fighting for citizens like you. Those who have been poisoned by arsenic in the soil, water, and plant life have a chance to make the polluters pay for their negligence. If you have been affected by arsenic contamination, please fill out the form on this page and one of our representatives will be in contact with you as soon as possible.