DES and Division of Public Health Services Stepping Up Efforts to Help Private Well Users Avoid Drinking Arsenic-Tainted Water
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced today receipt of a $145,000 grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help private well users understand the importance of well water testing and how to make informed decisions about water treatment systems for their homes. One in five private wells in New Hampshire supplies water with unhealthy levels of naturally-occurring arsenic. DES has long recommended that private well users have their water tested for arsenic and other contaminants, since these impurities cannot be detected by taste, odor or appearance. Arsenic in well water is associated with an increased risk of health problems, including various cancers, particularly bladder cancer.
DES will work closely with the Division of Public Health Services in the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, and with the U.S. Geological Survey and N.H. Geological survey on the two-year project. Together with Dartmouth College, these agencies form the N.H. Arsenic Consortium, whose mission is to help the public reduce their exposure to arsenic in food and water. Federal funds received will allow work to begin over the coming year and the CDC recommended an additional $145,000 for the second year of the project, subject to the availability of federal funds.
"This is a significant public health issue in New Hampshire," noted Sarah Pillsbury, administrator of DESís drinking water programs. "Public water systems are well regulated to ensure that the water they supply is safe to drink, but no testing is required for private wells, except in a few communities that have adopted local laws. In order to protect their health and their familiesí health, private well users - which make up 40 percent of the stateís population - should have their well water tested periodically by an accredited laboratory. Only then can they make informed decisions as to whether to treat the water and what type of treatment system will meet their needs."
More information about private wells and about arsenic in particular is available at the CDC and DES websites: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/ and http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/well_testing/index.htm.