Arsenic and Children – Is your child’s IQ affected by Arsenic in water?

Study on Arsenic and Children – In a collaborated effort, Scientists form Columbia University and The University of New Hampshire have completed a 5 year study involving Maine School Children and exposures to Arsenic from drinking water.

The results of the study show a strong correlation between even low levels of Arsenic in home drinking water and normal child development.

The combined 5 year study involved more than 270 school children, from 3 different Maine school districts. The children tested were between grades 3 through 5 and had been exposed to private well water Arsenic levels averaging between 5 ug/L and 10 ug/L (10 ug/L is the maximum recommended safe level).

The children had lived in their homes on average 7.3 years (75% of their lives).

The study included 4 main criteria typically used to measure normal child development statistics. The conclusions of the study showed decreases in each of these key areas which appear to be directly related to Arsenic exposure:

  • IQ  -6.09 FSIQ points
  • Perceptual Reasoning  -4.97 points
  • Working Memory  -4.88 points
  • Verbal Comprehension  -6.22 points

View the Study.

Recent Portland Press Herald Article

In their recent article discussing the study on Arsenic and Children, The Portland Press Herald spoke with Amy Schwartz from the University of New Hampshire. Schwartz helped to coordinate the testing for the study.

“Everyone was a little taken aback by that” says Schwartz. “This is a great piece of public health research. People shouldn’t panic, but be informed.”

Maine Arsenic Study First of its Kind in the US

Also interviewed for the article was Columbia University’s Gail Wasserman. Gail was one of Columbia’s lead researchers.

According to Wasserman, “It is the first study to actually show a difference in IQ points in the U.S. based on water arsenic levels. … It is statistically significant.”

20% of Maine Wells at Riskmaine well water

The article goes on to say that “A Maine health official said it’s estimated that nearly 20 percent of the private wells in the state would test at 5 or more parts of arsenic per billion.”

This is of vital importance as it relates to the amount of rural households in Maine that receive their water from private wells instead of public water supplies.

According to State figures, currently, approximately 50% of Maine homes receive their family’s drinking water from a private well.

This number promises to increase in future years as more and more homes are built in rural areas of the state. Because on average only homes in more populated or urban areas receive their drinking water from public water supplies, homes in outlying regions tend to be higher at risk for the threat of Arsenic.

Many families flock to Southern Maine communities such as Gorham and Scarborough due to the draw of strong school systems and proximity to working opportunities in the Portland area.

Ironically, communities such as these have seen some the highest concentrations of Arsenic in the State. For more  information on Arsenic basics and to learn more about Arsenic in the aforementioned towns, you may want to read  Arsenic 101 | Is my Water Safe

For information on how to mitigate Arsenic from your home’s water, check out Choosing an Arsenic System.

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