Study measures arsenic contamination in wells

Researchers in the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program have found that one out of every five private wells in New Hampshire has a high probability of having dangerous levels of arsenic.
As a result, they have been working to raise awareness about arsenic poisoning through websites and community well testing events across New Hampshire in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
“The problem is for well water and private water sources that aren’t regulated,” Director of Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program Bruce Stanton said.
Kathrin Lawlor, the program’s community engagement coordinator, said that approximately 46 percent of New Hampshire residents access their water from private wells.
Stanton said arsenic naturally occurs in certain types of bedrock that underlie the state of New Hampshire.
As a result, the College and state organizations both have websites designed to increase education about arsenic, called “Arsenic and You” and “Be Well Informed.” The latter of which includes a tool allowing people to enter well test results and receive customized treatment options.
“A lot of people mean to test their wells but they never get around to testing their wells,” Lawlor said.
“It’s tough sometimes to convince people that arsenic — something that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless — is having an adverse health effect,” he said.
He added that although certain areas are prone to higher concentrations of arsenic in ground water, wells have been found all over the state that contain drinking water with high levels of arsenic.
The EPA maximum contaminant level does not necessarily indicate a safe level of exposure, said Paul Susca, who works in the New Hampshire Environmental Services’ Drinking Water Source Protection Program.

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