Well Water Testing

Dated: 12/30/2015

Views: 362

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Homeowners far from municipal water sources typically pump their drinking water from a private well. Municipal water is monitored by officials, but private wells are not. For this reason, homeowners should test their water at least once a year, preferably in spring, for the presence of a variety of hazards including microbes, Volatile Organic Compounds, nitrates and elemental metals. Homeowners should also consider checking their well water to ensure its pH is close to seven.


Bacteria

Coliform bacteria, a group of bacteria found in warm-blooded animals, present a special danger to humans. Homeowners should consider a total coliform test on a sample of their well water. While some types of coliform are not dangerous to human health, a high total coliform suggests the presence of dangerous coliforms. Homeowners should also consider testing their well for Escherichia coli, known commonly as E. coli. E. coli is associated with human fecal matter. If well water is positive for E. coli, it is assumed well water is contaminated with fecal matter. Fecal matter can harbor microbes carrying dangerous diseases such as hepatitis and dysentery. Biologically, well water is generally safe if total coliform and E. coli counts are low or below established detection limits.


pH

Generally, water should have a neutral pH around seven. Well water with a pH below seven is acidic. Well water with a pH above seven is basic. Acidic or basic water is undesirable for human consumption, and both can damage the structural integrity of pipes. Some dangerous heavy metals like lead can dissolve from pipes into drinking water.


Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs, are a class of organic chemicals often associated with industry and fuel. Homeowners should always test their well water for VOCs if there is industry or fuel sources near their well. If industry and fuel sources are not nearby, homeowners can opt out of VOC testing. Still, it never hurts to check a well for VOCs. Sometimes, VOCs may exist in a well unexpectedly. They are carcinogenic, and they can harm the central nervous system and kidneys. Carbon tetrachloride and toluene are two examples of VOCs.


Nitrates

Well water should almost always be tested for nitrates because they can originate from many different sources. Animal waste, adjacent septic systems, fertilizers, storm water, decayed plants and runoff from agriculture all have some traces of nitrates. The human body can handle small amounts of nitrates. In fact, nitrates are frequently in food. However, high concentrations of nitrates can make people sick.  


Metal Contaminants

Many homeowners will also check their water for metal contaminants. Elements like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are the most dangerous metals frequently present in drinking water. Cadmium damages bones and kidneys, and arsenic is carcinogenic and damages the skin. Lead causes brain damage, and mercury is particularly hazardous to children, babies and fetuses. Homeowners should contact their local EPA for inquiries involving metal contamination. They can inform homeowners which metals are known to be present in a well’s area.


SOURCES:

http://people.uwec.edu/piercech/Hg/mercury_water/drinkingwater.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/wells/testing.html

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/topics/vocs.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757716

http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Physical_Chemistry/Acids_and_Bases/Aqueous_Solutions/The_pH_Scale

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Lisa Witsken-Gearhart

I am a native to Indiana and reside in Hamilton County. I am dedicated to providing you with the most positive experience, and strive to create customer relationships based on trust and confidence. Ma....

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