Arsenic is a naturally occurring semi-metal common in Montana’s groundwater. High concentrations are often found in mountainous areas like Missoula and Ravalli counties. Though it is a naturally occurring metal, too much arsenic is considered poisonous to humans.
Other sources of arsenic include mining waste and industrial deposits, such as those commonly found at mines and paper mills. Consequently, locations in the surrounding Missoula area that are particularly susceptible to arsenic contamination are those in and near the Milltown Reservoir, Potomic, Petty Creek drainage and Frenchtown. Contact the 406-258-4890 Missoula County Water Quality District at 406-258-4890 for more specific locations in Missoula County. Arsenic has also been confirmed in areas east of Corvallis. Contact the Ravalli County Sanitarian for arsenic information in Ravalli County at 406-375-6572.
Arsenic enters the ground water by gradually moving with the flow of ground water from rain or melting of snow. Like many contaminants that enter drinking water supplies, arsenic is potentially hazardous at high levels.
Arsenic is tasteless, odorless and invisible making it impossible to detect on your own. The best course of action is to get your water professionally tested. It’s also a good idea compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use and local geology to get a better idea about what’s in your water.
Arsenic has long been recognized as a poison. According to the EPA, chronic exposure to low doses in food or water can cause cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate. In addition, arsenic affects the vascular system and is associated with the development of diabetes, nervous system problems and low birth weights.
Observable symptoms of arsenic poisoning include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis and blindness. Whether someone will develop any of these symptoms depends on the amount of arsenic consumed, the length of exposure, the form of the arsenic and the general health and sensitivity of the person.
If you do have an arsenic problem, there are whole house and point-of-use arsenic removal technologies available that remove arsenic from your drinking water. Our water treatment experts will help you choose the correct drinking water system for your home.
If you’re worried about arsenic in your water, contact Kinetico of Missoula and Ravalli today for your FREE water test!