Frequent Questions

What are the sources of arsenic contamination in water?

The contamination of a drinking water source by arsenic can result from either natural or human activities.  Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rocks and soil, water, air, plants, and animals. Volcanic activity, the erosion of rocks and minerals, and forest fires are natural sources that can release arsenic into the environment. Although about 90 percent of the arsenic used by industry in the United States is currently used for wood preservative purposes, arsenic is also used in paints, drugs, dyes, soaps, metals and semi-conductors.  Agricultural applications, mining, and smelting also contribute to arsenic releases (Technical Fact Sheet: Final Rule for Arsenic in Drinking Water, EPA815-F-00-016; January 2001).  Additional information on arsenic in drinking water is available at

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