The most recent reports from the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados show that more than 10,000 Costa Ricans still receive tap water containing too much arsenic. Drinking water in parts of Guanacaste and northern Alajuela may be overly contaminated, according to the nation’s water management institution known as AyA.
The amount of arsenic in drinking water should not exceed 10 micrograms per liter. A recent study done by Columbia University and reported Tuesday by A.M. Costa Rica may show that high arsenic levels in tap water can lower children’s IQs.
Starting in 2010, AyA worked with the Ministerio de Salud to clear arsenic from the Guanacaste tap waters. The specific target areas were Cañas, Bagaces, and Puerto Soley. A report done by Carlos Vargas of AyA details how the institute went from house to house to install sanitary water in affected houses. Since they began, more than 28,000 people have had their water upgraded to suitable conditions. Twenty-three communities in northern Costa Rica were said to be at risk when the investigation work started.
AyA worked to sanitize their waterways of high arsenic levels through either replacing contaminated sources or using removal technology to clear them up, according to Vargas. His report estimates that by the end of this year the number of at-risk people will be cut in half to 5,000.
Other countries that have discovered alarming levels of arsenic in their water have ordered people to stop drinking the water or using it to prepare foods until it returned to an uncontaminated state.
Vargas’ report stated that there could potentially be more communities whose waters may harbor unsafe amounts of arsenic. Nearly 600 communal systems remain unevaluated, he said. The arsenic is naturally occurring in the subsurface rocks.