Arsenic Arresters

By: Hudson, Brett and George

“Water is the one substance from which the earth can conceal nothing; it sucks out its innermost secrets and brings them to our very lips” (Jean Giraudoux, 1946). Water is essential for all dimensions of life. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture.  Over one billion people lack safe water. Since water is so essential to our health, then we should strive to make our drinking water as safe as we can from contaminants.

We are a sixth grade team of three students from Whiteface, Texas. We read an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal concerning the high levels of arsenic in a family’s drinking water, which comes from their private well. It led to serious health problems for the entire family. Our team began researching the topic and learned that arsenic is a semi-metallic element and originates in many geological formations.  It is found in soil, river sediments, and the water supply in some regions. The groundwater of the Ogallala Aquifer supplies all our water at the tap, and for irrigating cotton, peanuts, and wheat crops of Texas. Arsenic-contaminated groundwater constitutes a health problem.  The EPA acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb).  Inorganic arsenic is a human carcinogen that is linked to liver, lung, kidney, bladder and skin cancers as well as Type 2 diabetes. Arsenic, according to the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, is considered the number one environmental chemical of concern for human health in the U. S. and worldwide.

In the agricultural region where we live, the drinking water has arsenic values from 11-30 parts per billion. Our team is researching and testing different methods to reduce the amount of arsenic in our drinking water and our soil. We are working with environmental scientists from Texas Tech University and West Texas A & M University to find solutions.

Is there anyone else concerned about this problem? Is any research being done in your area?  Are you an expert in this field who would share information with us? We are called the Arsenic Arresters and we are interested in educating others and decreasing the risk of arsenic contamination.

Hudson, Brett, and George enjoy working outside, being with family, playing basketball, and playing Minecraft when they’re not saving the world from arsenic contamination!

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