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How To Test Your Well Water For Pollution and Chemicals
Why Testing Your Well Water is Extremely Important. How To Test Your Well Water Yourself
Every year hundreds of rural dwelling Americans get sick from contaminated well water.
The reasons for contaminated well water are numerous. In some areas agricultural pesticides, including ones that were banned decades ago, are just now beginning to trickle down into the groundwater zones. Gasoline and the dangerous additives like MTBE it contains can travel fast underground from leaking gas station tanks that have never been inspected.
City dwellers, although they are assured by their government are not automatically safe. Old homes may have lead soldered pipes that leak lead into their water or are cross contaminated by nearby sewage lines.
A primary cause of well water contaminants that cause disease it from nearby septic tanks and fields that are seeping into the zone where your water comes from. Older wells are vulnerable to this since the pipe toward the surface, where most contamination from septic tanks occurs, begin to crack or rust and develop leaks that allow in fecal bacteria.
What A Well Water Test Kit Should Check For
Your test should include checks for fecal coliform, total coliform, VOC's or volatile organic compounds, nitrates and heavy metals and pesticides. It is important that you choose a well water test kit that checks for all of the above contaminants.
Even old junk heaps from decades ago, buried and forgotten may hold lead and cadmium batteries that are beginning to trickle into your water supply.
One well that our company discovered to be highly contaminated with lead was in a subdivision which had once been a fish canning plant. Lead had been used in the solder of the fish cans and had been discarded and buried around the property and found its way into the shallow 100 foot water sand.
It can take time for lead poisoning to show up in adults but in children the effects are more rapidly noticeable and can lead to lifetime health problems. A check of your whole house water system can indicate if you have lead leaching into the system from the well or if it is coming from old lead soldered pipes you may not even know about.
Having your water tested is every homeowner's responsibility. Contact your local government's health department for information about testing and possibly even free tests.
If you are concerned about confidentiality you may want to contact a private testing company that is approved by your state or has a national certification. In either case you should not wait to test your water, your own health and your family's health may be at risk.
How To Test Your Well Water Yourself
Commercially available kits such as Watersafe check for all of the contaminants above and test results are usually returned within one to two weeks.
Follow the instructions carefully when drawing a sample. Normally you will need to let your water run for at least a couple of minutes, from the cold tap, with any filters you may have removed.