Private Wells and Human Health
If you have a private well, then you should make water quality testing a priority. EPA regulations that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to nonpublic sources, including private well water. Unless your state or local government has set rules, individual water system owners remain responsible for making sure their water is safe to drink and use.
Well water commonly contains contaminants that pose a risk to human health. Contaminants may be present both naturally or as a result of human activity. Some contaminants, like arsenic, are colorless, odorless and tasteless, and their presence can only be determined by laboratory testing.
Please read our final report on the year one work we completed for a contract with the NH Department of Environmental Services with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to survey private well owners and evaluate exposure and health effects for the NH population.
At a minimum, most states recommend that you check your well for mechanical problems each spring and that you test once-a-year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. It is also important to test regularly for contaminants of local concern, like arsenic. If you live in New England and it is time to test your well, we have created a page that contains information on where to obtain a test kit and who to contact in case you have questions about what you should test for. Test your well regularly!
NH DES Private Well Testing Program
CDC: Water-related Diseases, Contaminants, and Injuries by Type
EPA: Arsenic in Drinking Water
U.S. Geological Survey: Information on Arsenic in New England Groundwater
Our Research Translation Core (RTC) regularly convenes meetings of researchers and stakeholders in the field of arsenic study to discuss the issue of arsenic in well-water and other health-related impacts of arsenic in the environment. Click here for more information.