There have been concerns in the North Pole area of ground water being contaminated and unfit for drinking and cooking due to chemical pollutants from the fuel refinery over the last couple years.  And there are plenty of people who collect water for drinking and cooking from the various laundry mats/Water Wagon stations in Fairbanks due to not having running water.  Yet some haul water due to natural arsenic in the water, as it is a toxin when taken in by food or drink.  It is not unusual to have arsenic wherever there are gold deposits in the geology.

There is a broad sweep of symptoms that can be associated from ingesting arsenic which can effect the heart, pancreas and even blood. Some symptoms are immediate such vomiting, nausea, and cramping.  The key is to stop taking in the contaminated source so that the body can begin to filter and eliminate it.  There are known recommendation limits for ingestion from the EPA (10 parts per billion, or 10 ppb).  For those who bathe in arsenic laden water it is 500 ppb, and for those watering produce which will be eaten the recommendation is to take in 100 ppb or less. The good news is that depending on your well water system distribution, there are reverse osmosis systems which can reduce arsenic at a sink faucet or at your pressure tank. After figuring in initial installation costs, the disposable filters will be the key cost factor to help you determine whether it is more cost effective to haul water from a laundry mat/watering station- or pump it up from your well.

For those  in the Fairbanks area who are wanting more information, there will be a discussion session held by the State Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday March, 16 2016 beginning 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Two Rivers Church of the Nazarene, 4629 Chena Hot Springs Road. You can also sign up for free testing for arsenic in well water and be tested yourself (if you haven’t eaten fish or seafood for two to three days prior). You can also view the Division of Epidemiology’s information about arsenic in the Fairbanks area conducted almost four decades ago at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/docs/b1977_14.htm, and about the health effects at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/docs/b1998_22.htm. For more information on the Two Rivers discussion session and testing, contact Sandrine Deglin,  health educator with Health and Social Services at (907)269-8028 or sandrine.deglin@alaska.gov.

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