In a landmark study, scientists from The University of Sydney have discovered the presence of a highly toxic chemical in water and have identified it as a highly carcinogenic agent known as arsenic.
Lead researcher Dr David Rutter said the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, was the first to identify arsenic in drinking water in Australia.
“We found the arsenic in the water samples and then identified the arsenic from the surface of the water,” Dr Rutter told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“The arsenic is known to be extremely toxic and has been linked to various cancers, including cancers of the lung, prostate, thyroid and kidney.”
This is a carcinogenic chemical in the body, so it causes cancer, it can lead to lung and kidney damage, and it can cause some cancers of different types.
“Dr Rutter says arsenic is a known carcinogen and can be detected in water.”
Our study was the only one to have identified arsenic in water in an Australian context, so this is the first time we’ve identified it in Australian water,” he said.”
What we’re seeing is there’s been an increase in arsenic in our water over the last few years and that’s caused us to look at it in more detail.
“Dr Darryl Tarrant, a toxicologist with the Australian Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, said arsenic was a known risk factor for cancer.”
Aluminum is a toxic metal and it is linked to cancers of lung, skin and kidney,” he told ABC radio.”
You can also find a high amount of arsenic in seafood.
“It’s a toxic substance that can cause skin cancer, kidney damage and cancers of various types.”
In the case of drinking water, it has been found in fish such as mackerel, tuna, mackels and halibut.
“The study involved more than 100 volunteers and involved an analysis of their urine.
Dr Ruttering said it was also important to understand the levels of arsenic that were present in Australian waters.”
So, when you go and look at the levels in Australian drinking water it’s not necessarily high, but it’s very high,” he explained.”
There’s been a rise in arsenic over the past few years.
“Over the past 20 years, the amount of water that’s been analysed by the researchers has increased by 30 per cent.”
That’s why we’re concerned about the level of arsenic.
“Dr Tarrance said arsenic had been found at high levels in many other areas of Australia, such as in Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
He said arsenic is the most commonly found contaminant in groundwater, but not in drinking supplies.”
Arsenic is a common contaminant of water in most areas of the country,” Dr Tarrantly said.
The University of NSW said arsenic in Australia was likely to be more widespread.”
While we have only detected arsenic in a few areas in Australia, the presence has been widespread across the country and may well be in some drinking water supplies in other countries,” Dr Aimee Stoddart said.