Environmental arsenic water contamination
This is a deadly hazard in many areas of the world, including industrialized nations.
It is estimated that at least 60 million people are exposed to water contaminated by arsenic from man-made pollution and from natural arsenic in the soil.
It may also accumulate in some agricultural products depending on the soil where the crop was grown (for example, some organic brown rice syrup may show large amounts and other batches may have none).
Green tea antioxidants
Since oxidative stress is one of the toxic mechanisms involved, researchers have studied green tea antioxidant polyphenols to learn if these natural chemicals could help protect poisoned cells.
A study from West Bengal, India, showed that both black and green tea reduced the elevated levels of lipid peroxides and protein carbonyl seen with arsenite poisoning.
Both teas showed protection against the decline in antioxidants, including catalase, glutathiones, and superoxide dismutase (SOD), as well as against genotoxicity (Sinha D et al, Antioxidant potential of tea reduces arsenite induced oxidative stress in Swiss albino mice, Food Chem Toxicol, January 2010).
Arsenic burden reduced by daily green tea
Another study found that providing daily green tea improved antioxidant levels and reduced the burden of arsenic in tissues during exposure for 28 days (Chandronitha C et al, Protective role of tannin-rich fraction of Camellia sinensis in tissue arsenic burden in Sprague Dawley rats, Human Exp Toxicol, February 2010).
Green tea reduced toxic reactions
Exposure to arsenic increases liver and kidney biochemical pathways that cause increased cholesterol, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, total protein, albumin, bilirubin, urea, creatinine, and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances.
When green tea was supplied during exposure, the toxic reactions to arsenic were reduced (Messarah M et al, Green tea extract alleviates arsenic-induced biochemical toxicity and lipid peroxidation in rats, Toxicology and Industrial Health, February 2012).
Arsenic, a carcinogen, promotes cancer growth
Another study shows that inorganic arsenic, already shown to be a carcinogen, changes normal stem cells into cancer cells and promotes cancerous growth and metastasis (Yuanyuan Xu et al, Arsenic-transformed nalignant prostate epithelia can convert noncontiguous normal stem cells into an oncogenic phenotype, Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2012).
These studies are considered preliminary.
Millions of people are exposed to arsenic water worldwide.
Nanotechnology may also clean water
As of 2012, researchers at the US Materials Recycling Design Group, Research Center for Strategic Materials, National Institute for Materials Science, have developed nanomaterials that can quickly and inexpensively detect and remove arsenic as well as other contamination including lead, mercury, cobalt, palladium, radioactive cesium, and strontium.
These water-filtering nanomaterials are lightweight, thus allowing usage not only in large water processing units, but also the possibility of individual use.
Arsenic water poisoning from environmental exposure in drinking water occurs worldwide and may be associated with heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, and respiratory diseases.
Water supplies in Bangladesh are an extreme example of arsenic water contamination from natural sources where more than half of that country’s population may be exposed to poisoning.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on September 8, 2012
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