Explained in 60 seconds: Toxic Arsenic in Bottled Water – What You Should Know

Bottled water like the ones pulled for Arsenic by the FSAI

Explained in 60 seconds: Toxic Arsenic in Bottled Water – What You Should Know

How does arsenic get into bottled water?

Groundwater wells, such as the ones used for bottled water, will contain naturally occurring arsenic. This arsenic is present naturally as a trace metal salt in the bedrock.

Where are the higher levels of arsenic in groundwater found?

In Ireland, we rarely see elevated levels of arsenic above the EU Drinking water limit of 10 micrograms per litre. Still, it does occur in some wells in certain parts of the country. For example, because sandstone bedrock regions can be affected, Kerry is a hotspot area. Recently, above-normal levels of arsenic were found in bottled water by the FSAI.


Do humans need arsenic?

While arsenic may have been historically used in some cultures or contexts for its stimulant effects, it is not considered an essential element for human health, and its consumption is highly discouraged. Arsenic is a highly toxic substance, and even in small doses, it can have detrimental effects on human health. Long-term exposure to arsenic is associated with a range of serious health problems, including various cancers and other chronic diseases. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid intentional or unnecessary exposure to arsenic and prioritise safe drinking water and food sources that meet established safety standards. There are plenty of examples of where arsenic has been used as a stimulant for greyhounds, horses before racing, and by humans as well.



What are the health risks associated with the consumption of high levels of arsenic in bottled water?

At high intake levels, above 50 micrograms per litre of water per day and for over five years, arsenic can act as a chronic poison. The symptoms are pigmentation followed by lesions (small skin breaks) which can lead to bladder cancer.

Consuming high levels of arsenic in bottled water can pose significant health risks. Arsenic is a toxic element that, when ingested over time, may lead to serious health issues. Short-term exposure to high arsenic levels can cause acute symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term exposure, even at lower levels, has been linked to chronic health problems, including skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer, such as bladder, lung, and skin cancer. It’s crucial to ensure that bottled water meets safety standards and has been properly tested for arsenic levels to mitigate these health risks.


How can people filter drinking water for arsenic?

The most common is known as ion exchange filtration is used to remove elevated arsenic from water. To ensure safe drinking water, individuals can employ various methods to filter out arsenic contamination. Options include activated alumina, reverse osmosis (RO) systems, iron oxide-based media, anion exchange, and distillation. Selecting the most suitable method depends on the level of arsenic in the water, with water testing being the initial step. It’s important to choose certified systems to ensure effectiveness and consider maintenance needs. Whether through point-of-use pitchers or whole-house solutions, these arsenic filtration methods contribute to safeguarding health and well-being by removing this harmful contaminant from drinking water.


How can people test for arsenic in their water?

A plasma mass spectrometer analyses arsenic in water. Southern Scientific Services offers accredited testing if you’re concerned about arsenic in your water.

The analysis costs €54 and is part of an entire metal suite, including aluminium, antimony, boron, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel and selenium.

For more information, see our Metals Water Test.



  • Bottled water is filled from groundwater sources.
  • Arsenic occurs naturally in low levels in groundwater.
  • Sandstone bedrock areas are most likely to be contaminated with arsenic.
  • Arsenic is not an essential element for normal body function.
  • Arsenic is dangerous in over 50 micrograms per litre of water daily for over five years.

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Water Quality Advancements for the Future. With the world progressing at breakneck speed, our water quality in water sources faces some challenges, but there is a silver lining: new and existing technologies could provide potential solutions to upgrading the water quality. In this article, we will delve deep into the

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