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.

Well Water Testing Information

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!

Dartmouth Resources water

Arsenic Fact Sheet
In Small Doses: Arsenic

External Resources

CDC: Water-related Diseases, Contaminants, and Injuries by Type
EPA: Private Wells and Human Health
Water Quality Interpretation Tool

Northeast Regional Arsenic Consortium

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.