Arsenic in Drinking Water

Joy Warren made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health and Social Care

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care - OHID

“In the UK arsenic levels are under stringent control and exposures to arsenic in water, air and food are reduced to the lowest practical level [The ALARP Principle] to minimise possible risks to health. Similarly, levels are set to protect workers who may be exposed to arsenic in air. Short term exposure to arsenic is likely to be associated at most with only a very small increase in the risk of cancer.”
(Public Health England (2019). Arsenic: General Information (14th August 2019).

Raw water prior to water treatment contains varying levels of arsenic. It is hoped that the treatment process removes some arsenic, thus fulfilling the ALARP Principle.

However, according to BSEN 12175:2013, p.8, when fluoride is added to drinking water following the treatment process, arsenic is also added. I calculate that a maximum of 2.5 micrograms arsenic is added to every litre of fluoridated water. This arsenic-containing water is regularly drunk by water consumers on a long-term basis for a lifetime and this increases the risk of cancer. It is not short-term exposure.

Of concern, the expectant woman, foetus and infant fed on baby formula reconstituted with fluoridated water are constantly over-exposed to the carcinogen, arsenic.

Note that the UK Government’s Committee on Toxicity has recommended the ALARP Principle should be observed in its paper on Arsenic CoT/2003/01 dated May 2003. (COMMITTEE ON TOXICITY OF CHEMICALS IN FOOD, CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT STATEMENT ON ARSENIC IN FOOD: RESULTS OF THE 1999 TOTAL DIET STUDY)

I would like to see evidence which justifies the addition of arsenic to drinking water in contravention of the ALARP Principle.

Yours faithfully,

Joy Warren

Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

Could you please acknowledge receipt of this request for information which is different to an earlier request dated 7th November 2022 and which has received a registered no: 1425025 - Arsenic in Baby Formula.

Yours faithfully,

Joy Warren

Department of Health and Social Care

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1 Attachment

Dear Ms Warren,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request (our ref: FOI-1427501).

Yours sincerely, 

Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care

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