Thursday, June 3, 2010

But are you sure?

Do you test your well water annually?

Well you certainly better. It is strongly advised to have a private well or spring test each year at the minimum and in many cases more frequently. Ground water source conditions can change rapidly and drastically without any noticeable difference to the user. These changes can be harmless and they can also deadly. There is a noticeable increase nationwide in the quality of private water sources. The causes vary by location but the common result is that chemical and biological contamination is increasing. Researchers working with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) which is a part of the National Institutes of Health, have taken a lead role in working with the AAP in developing recommendations that reflect a growing crisis and draft a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement to advise consumers and provide recommendations; especially where children may become exposed to contaminated water sources.

 The recommendations call for regular monitoring and testing of ground water sources, especially for nitrate and microorganisms such as coliform bacteria. The recommendations point out circumstances when additional testing should occur, including testing when there is a new infant in the house, when an occupant experiences a change in health or if the well is subjected to structural damage or flooding.
The Elderly and individuals with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to waterborne illnesses that may come from contaminated wells. Walter J. Rogan, M.D., an epidemiologist at NIEHS and lead author on the new policy statement, "Drinking Water from Private Wells and Risks to Children," and technical report printed in the June issue of Pediatrics also stated that children are also in this high risk catagory. The policy statement offers updated recommendations for inspection, testing and remediation of wells providing drinking water for children. 

"With few exceptions, well owners are responsible for their own wells," said Rogan. Private Wells are not subject to federal regulations and are only minimally regulated by states. To ensure well water is safe home owners should be monitor water conditions regularly with the understanding that wells can become contaminated with pathogenic organisms or chemicals from one test to the next.

Contamination source are everywhere in today's high production environment and you just can't be certain of what is being done properly or not. Nitrates for example, which comes from sewage or fertilizers, is one of the most common contaminants found in private ground water sources and is also very harmful to our bodies. The presence of nitrates can be a problem particularly for infants under three months who can not metabolize nitrate. Water with a nitrate concentration of more than 10 milligrams per liter (m/pl) should not be used to prepare infant formula or given to a child younger than one year. Long term exposure to Nitrates is know result in serous health problems ranging from Endothelial Dysfunction to Cancer to Neurological disorders and is believed to contribute to Type2 Diabetes. 

The policy statement and accompanying technical report point out that water contamination is inherently local, and that families with wells should keep in contact with state and local health experts to determine what should be tested in their community.
Some parts of the country may have arsenic, radon, salt intrusion or agricultural runoff that may get into the water supply.

"As people move out of urban and suburban areas into areas it is more important than ever that people know who to contact in their local health department for get information about local groundwater conditions," said N. Beth Ragan of NIEHS; who also provided consultantion on these reports. 

A compilation of state by state telephone and Web-based resources of local experts is included in the technical report. At the publishing of this report it was estimated that one-sixth of U.S. households had private wells as their source of potable water.

Drinking and bathing water is a very big part of staying healthy. To the skeptical I say; better safe than sorry. If you won’t know until it is to late why not avoid the risk all together. Test your well frequently and install the necessary filtration to remove or protect yourself and your family against the growing risk of contaminated water.


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