Tags: arsenic | tap | water | iq

Is Your Tap Water Lowering Your IQ?

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 03:31 PM

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Could your tap water be making you dumber? The answer might be yes, if it has arsenic in it, according to a new study of Maine schoolchildren.

The study, published in the scientific journal Environmental Health  and detailed in the Portland Press Herald tracked 272 children for five years and found that those whose water contained arsenic tended to have lower IQs.

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"Everyone was a little taken aback by that," said University of New Hampshire professor Amy Schwartz, who coordinated the tests along with Columbia University researchers. "People shouldn't panic, but be informed." Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater, which means that people who get their water from wells may be consuming it."

According to the results, water with even very low levels of arsenic — just 5 parts per billion, well below the 10 parts per billion the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe — can lower IQ as much as 5 or 6 points.

Researchers recommended that people who rely on private wells invest in a filtration system or buy bottled water. "As a consumer, I know I wouldn't wait around for a new standard," Schwartz said.

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