White Rock residents listen to cancer prevention specialist Trevor Dummer speak about arsenic and drinking water at the White Rock First United Church last Wednesday. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)

Arsenic numbers a concern for scientist

Researcher says Health Canada’s 0.0100 mg/L arsenic MAC should be lowered

Trevor Dummer – an associate professor with UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, an environmental epidemiology PhD and an investigator for the Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention – said that if his water source consistently had an arsenic concentration of 0.007 or 0.008 mg/L, he wouldn’t drink it.

His proclamation was made in front of more than 130 people last week at the Drinking Water, Arsenic and Your Health public-information session organized by a group of residents who call themselves the White Rock Arsenic & Manganese Working Group.

The City of White Rock has published 107 of its water-testing results dating back to January 2016 from several locations throughout the city. The metal results show an average arsenic concentration of 0.0074 mg/L.

Of the reported results, 57 samples tested at 0.007 mg/L or above.

However, Health Canada established an arsenic maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 0.0100 mg/L, based on municipal and residential-scale treatment achievability. That guideline is enforced by Fraser Health and followed by the City of White Rock.

Dummer, who held Wednesday’s presentation at First United Church free-of-charge, said the intent of the session was to inform the public on the health risks of drinking arsenic-laced water.

He spoke with Peace Arch News the following day.

SEE ALSO: White Rock water concerns rising

SEE ALSO: City of White Rock eyes 80% arsenic reduction

“If I was aware that my drinking water was consistently at 0.007 mg/L or 0.008 mg/L, then I would think very strongly about drinking it and would probably move to bottled water,” he said.

Dummer applauded the City of White Rock for posting the results on its website.

“It’s good to be able to see the water-testing results so then you can make an informed opinion on whether you should drink it,” he said.

According to the city’s published arsenic testing results, 10 (9.3 per cent) test samples came in at 0.005 mg/L or less.

In order to have “essentially negligible” health impacts, drinking water should have an arsenic concentration of 0.003 mg/L or less, according to Health Canada drinking-water guidelines. Essentially negligible equates to one new cancer case per 100,000 people. Water with an arsenic concentration of 0.0100 mg/L can have three to 39 new cancer cases per 100,000 people.

Although some of the scientific evidence Dummer researched has been “contested,” it’s his opinion that the maximum acceptable concentration of arsenic should be lowered.

“My own personal opinion as a scientist is that we need to revisit the maximum acceptable concentration of .0100 mg/L and it should be lowered to 0.0050 mg/L. I would also say that I would probably avoid drinking water if the levels from the tap I was drinking from were constantly above seven or eight,” Dummer said, adding that arsenic concentrations can vary from time to time.

He said nearly every jurisdiction in North America follows a 0.010 mg/L MAC, with the exception of New Jersey, which follows a 0.005 mg/L maximum.

“Perhaps getting to below .0005 mg/L is the way forward,” he said.

Dummer also noted it’s important to take the data in context, as the most effective steps to prevent cancer are to eat healthy and not smoke.

Cancers related to arsenic consumption include kidney, bladder, lung and liver cancers.

Last March, the city received an $11.8-million federal provincial grant for a planned arsenic and manganese treatment facility. The city is to make up the remainder of the $14,205,000 project.

During the funding announcement, Mayor Wayne Baldwin explained why the arsenic and manganese treatment process is needed, even though Fraser Health and the city say the water is safe to drink.

“The arsenic does occasionally pop up, not from the whole system, but from one or two wells,” Baldwin said. “If it blends with the rest of the water, it’s OK, it’s not an issue. But it does pop up, what it’s saying to us, if it’s coming up now, at some point in the future it could be on a sustained basis and that’s not acceptable.”

Since January 2016, there were a total of six testing results above the 0.010 mg/L MAC at three different sampling locations.

Just Posted

Surrey rallies for change in global climate strike

Holland Park event part of marches around the world Sept. 20

Surrey RCMP need help to find missing man

Denis Godard, 64, who was reported missing on Sept. 19

Little library stolen in Clayton Heights

Thieves permanently check out family’s book collection

Cloverdale Community Kitchen hosts ‘learning’ breakfast for students

Coast Capital Savings offered short presentations on financial topics

Surrey council sends back 25-storey highrise proposal, asks for more height and density

Developer says it is ‘currently reviewing direction’ from mayor, council

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Vancouver police get green light to use drones for investigations

Drones will be used to investigate motor vehicle collisions, crime scene analysis and more

Most Read

l -->