Arsenic Pollution And Arsenic Contamination

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a. Inorganic arsenic is highly toxic and a significant public health threat throughout the world. Long-term exposure to arsenic through contaminated water can lead to arsenic poisoning and a variety of adverse health effects, including skin lesions, cancer, and respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. However, arsenic is highly abundant in the Earth’s crust and is naturally present across the world in the air, water, and soil. Arsenic integrates into the environment with natural processes including weathering reactions and volcanic activity, and through anthropogenic processes such as mining, fossil fuel combustion, and utilization of pesticides. b. Although arsenic is found throughout the environment, epidemiological studies have…show more content…
In this region, high arsenic concentrations are mostly due to the volcanic activity in the Andes Mountains. Mining is also widespread in the region, and copper smelting specifically emits arsenic into the atmosphere. It is difficult to measure mining’s impact on arsenic water contamination because baseline natural levels were not established in the area. Overall, however, arsenic released from mining processes settles mainly in the atmosphere, and studies have shown that drinking water serves as the primary path of exposure of arsenic for humans, making the naturally occurring arsenic in the groundwater a greater threat to human health in Antofagasta. ii. The Antofagasta Region has an extremely arid climate and low rates of precipitation, which greatly limit water availability and further exacerbate the effects of the natural arsenic contamination. The Loa River and its tributaries of San Pedro, Salado, and San Salvador are the only surface water sources, but this river is very saline and home to a range of arsenic levels. These arsenic levels naturally fluctuate due to its natural volcanic and geothermal origins, but generally, all the concentrations are above safe set limits for human consumption as set by the World Health Organization at 10 ug/L. 3. Arsenic Concentration Spikes a. What happened? i. In Northern Chile, there was a significant increase in arsenic concentration and exposure from1958 to 1970. The growing
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