You trust that the products you consume are safe from harmful substances. If a product becomes contaminated, the company issues a recall, right? That isn’t always the case.

Consumer Reports reports that the Keurig Dr Pepper company has sold an imported bottled water containing twice the legal limit of arsenic in the United States. The report stated that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flagged the product but may have known about the contamination as early as 2013. Both the company and the Mexican government are now investigating these claims.

The dangers of arsenic

While arsenic is a naturally occurring element, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that you’re most likely to experience inorganic arsenic exposure through your drinking water. The CDC believes exposure to organic sources of arsenic, like fish, as safe to humans. However, exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic have dramatic health consequences including:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dehydration due to vomiting or diarrhea.
  • High-blood pressure.
  • Certain cancers including lung, liver and bladder.
  • Heightened risk of diabetes.

Diagnosing arsenic poisoning

If you’re concerned about arsenic poisoning, you should visit your doctor. Medical professionals consider a urine test the most reliable test for recent arsenic exposure. Similarly, blood, hair, and fingernail tests can detect high-level exposure within the last year.

Certain people are more exposed to inorganic arsenic than others. If your job involves handling arsenic, wearing protective clothing and changing clothes can prevent you from exposing your family to high levels of arsenic. Using a water filtration system may help reduce your exposure if your water source contains elevated arsenic levels.

It’s unfortunate that the protections against contamination from substances like arsenic in the products we consume sometimes fail. The good news is that there are ways we can mitigate our exposure to potentially harmful substances from other sources.