Private well owners are responsible for the safety of their water. The Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate or enforce legal limits of contaminants found in private wells. It is up to the well owner to test and treat for these contaminants to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those using water from that source. Along with the common complaints amongst private well owners regarding the taste, smell, and appearance of their well water, that water could also contain levels of contaminants such as radioactive substances, metals or fluoride, agricultural chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, and the list goes on. The U.S. Geological Survey released a report in 2009 finding that almost one-fourth of private domestic wells contain levels of these potentially harmful contaminants.
According to the Environmental Working Group, Substances found in groundwater and surrounding mineral deposits include:
- Radioactive elements such as radium or uranium
- Metals such as arsenic are commonly found in groundwater, particularly in the West, Midwest, & Northeast. The U.S. Geological Survey found that nearly 7 percent of private wells across the county have levels of arsenic above legal limits.
- Fluoride occurs naturally in surface water & groundwater, and many public systems also add it to tap water, however, the Public Health Service recommends no more than 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.
- Nitrate, a fertilizer chemical, frequently contaminates drinking water due to agricultural & urban runoff, and discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants & septic tanks.
- Toxic pesticides commonly migrate into groundwater in agricultural areas.
- Industrial products & wastes, which can contaminate groundwater from improper disposal, leaks from underground tanks, or leaching from landfills or waste dumps. Carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, (VOCs) can pollute private water wells near industrial sites or landfills.
- Lead and copper, which can leach from pipes and plumbing fixtures due to the presence of corrosive compounds such as acids in groundwater. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes. If your water has a pH value of less than 7, or has other indicators of corrosive water, metals such as copper & lead can easily leach from pipes into water.
- Microbes such as bacteria, viruses and other parasites, can contaminate wells from both natural and human-related activities.
When should I have my water tested?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend regular mechanical maintenance & testing your well every spring. Regular testing is recommended because contaminant levels can change over time. You should also test your well:
- Before you use it for the first time
- If someone in your household is pregnant or nursing
- If there are known problems with well water in your area
- If your household plumbing contains lead
- If there has been flooding or other land disturbances in your area
- After you repair any part of your well system
- If you notice changes in the taste, color, or odor of your water.
What should I do if contaminants are detected?
The Hans Premium Water appliance removes the following contaminants: