A review on arsenic concentrations in Canadian drinking water

Claire F. McGuigan, Camille L.A. Hamula, Sarah Huang, Stephan Gabos, X. Chris Le

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Recent events have increased public awareness of drinking water quality in Canada. The goal of this review was to examine how much information about arsenic (As) in Canadian drinking water is available. Provincial, territorial, and federal Web sites were searched for information about As in drinking water. Major scientific databases (PubMed, Web of Science) were searched for drinking water As information for all provinces and territories. Resulting information was examined for availability, accessibility, quality, and timeliness. Most provinces provided at least basic fact sheets about As, and several provinces provided comprehensive databases containing actual test results. The vast majority of Canadian municipal drinking water systems with As data show a concentration below 10 g/L, the current guideline level. Several locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Québec, and Saskatchewan have localized elevations of As ("hotspots", >10 g/L As); this information is available at the provincial level, but may not include exact locations nor the degree by which they exceed the current guideline limit of 10 g/L. For other locations, however, little information is available. The lack of a centralized information source represents a significant obstacle to obtaining drinking water quality data. Although difficult to implement, a centralized and standardized source of national drinking water quality data is urgently needed to determine the effects of As and other contaminants on Canadians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-307
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic
  • Canada
  • Drinking water
  • Environmental contaminants
  • Human exposure
  • Public health
  • Water quality and safety


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