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Common causes of well water contamination

There could be a problem with my well water.  What causes well water contamination?

Well water can be unsafe to drink; many factors can contaminate the water supply. Following are some of the more common causes of well water contamination. First things first, is your well correctly constructed and properly maintained?  If the answer is no, there is a possibility that surface water has made its way into the well and contaminated the groundwater.  Secondly, take a good look around your environment.  Potential pollution sources, such as a nearby septic system, an agricultural area, or an industrial area, can increase the risk of well water contamination.  Runoff from sewage, septic systems, and a farming site populated with livestock, can contaminate your well with bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.  Ingesting these contaminants often leads to gastroenteritis, cholera, and other waterborne diseases.  Agricultural sites are often the source of nitrates and nitrites infiltrating your well too.  Why? The answer lies in the routine use of large volumes of fertilizers.  High levels of nitrates and nitrites in well water, especially in infants, can affect oxygen transport in the blood.

Are you familiar with the term VOCs?  Volatile Organic Compounds are organic chemical compounds that evaporate easily at room temperature; widely used at home and work make exposure to VOCs unavoidable. Industrial activities or improper waste disposal are also a likely source of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  VOCs can infiltrate well water and become a health risk, which includes carcinogenic effects.

Your sense of smell and taste may also help you determine the source behind your concern.  Hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be produced by certain bacteria in the water, has a distinct odor; think rotten eggs!  Likewise, elevated levels of iron and magnesium can affect well water’s taste, color, and smell.  At low concentrations, they usually are not a cause for concern; high levels do pose a threat to your health.  The adage, the nose knows, is true here.  Also, high sulfur content in well water may smell foul, resulting in an unpleasant taste.

Prolonged exposure to chemical pollutants can have serious health effects.  Pollutants such as heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury), pesticides, industrial chemicals, household waste, fertilizers, and household waste can seep into the groundwater and contaminate the water in your well.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can dissolve into groundwater.  When radon gas is released and inhaled from water, the result is an increased risk of lung cancer.  Natural contaminants like arsenic, fluoride, and uranium can be present in well water due to geological formations.

After reading this, are you afraid to drink the water in your well?  It is understandable; it is quite a lot of risk to consider from one article.  If the water has a foul smell or taste or is discolored, you must consider getting it tested.  If you believe the water makes you sick, you must get it tested.  If the area around you is a cause for concern, such as a nearby farm, an industrial site, or a septic system close to your well, consider testing the water you drink.  Testing by a certified laboratory is essential to determine the quality and safety of your water.  One of our project managers will collect water samples in laboratory-approved containers, read and consider the lab results, talk with you about those results, and finally complete a written report summarizing the results and a professional opinion of the appropriate course of action if contamination is detected, to implement to make the water safe for drinking.    Local health departments and environmental consultants will provide guidance on well maintenance and water safety.  When you want a qualified expert to weigh in, call us; we are safe space experts.  We will provide you with peace of mind.

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