Health authorities strongly recommend annual coliform bacteria testing for private water wells as contamination can occur without any change in taste or odor to the water. Depending on your needs, there are many options available for coliform bacteria testing, ranging from testing yourself at home to EPA-certified, lab quality testing.
There are many ways that well water can become contaminated by coliform bacteria, so it is most important to test:
Arsenic, part 2
Dangers of Arsenic Exposure
Unfortunately, arsenic is very difficult to detect. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. For this reason, people can be easily and unknowingly be exposed to high levels of arsenic in their water.
As discussed in Part 1 of this series of blog posts, food is a large source of arsenic into our bodies. Apples, poultry, mushrooms, rice, and rice cereal all can accumulate high concentrations of the contaminant. Not only are these foods staples in the diets of many across the world, they are also especially crucial in the diets of young children.
However, the dose determines the poison. We breathe, consume, and digest small amounts of arsenic every day.
How the body absorbs, processes, and disposes of the chemical are important considerations in determining how a contaminant affects the body. Organic arsenic flushes through the system within several days, while small amounts of inorganic arsenic after ingestion can remain processing in the body for several months. Inorganic and organic arsenic both exit the body through urine.
Symptoms of arsenic poisoning range from nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diminished nerve function particularly in the hands and feet. Cases of long term exposure are most noted by darkened skin spots and the development of warts on the surface of the skin. From the severe disruption of the skin’s normal biological defenses, different types of cancer can develop.
The western US, the midwest, and certain localities in Texas have been found to have elevated levels of arsenic in the drinking water. Arsenic levels were taken by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at each of 31,350 wells across the country, represented each by a point on this map.
How To Tell If Arsenic Is In Your Well Water
If you or your community relies heavily on private wells for drinking and cooking water, it is crucial to consistently get the arsenic levels tested in your wells. A lab test is the most reliable method of quantifying the contaminant.
Though the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the EPA is 10 ppm, the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for arsenic is 0 ppm. Both of these concentrations refer to total arsenic, organic and inorganic.
Testing is likely available through your state’s drinking water agency. In addition, Clean Water Stores has certified arsenic test kits available that are easy to do at home and reliable.
For more information, the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry creates Public Health Statements for known environmental contaminants, including arsenic.
Part 3 of our series on Arsenic will come out next week. It will address how arsenic in wells can be treated! Stay tuned for remediation protocols for this serious water health issue on the CWS blog.
Arsenic is a natural element that is commonly found in water, air, soils and plants and animals. Agricultural and industrial sources can also release arsenic into the environment.
It is can be found in two different forms:
Collecting a water sample for a laboratory water analysis is a critical step in the process of having your water analyzed. When collecting the samples, it is critical is to follow the directions outlined in the sample kit.
Something as simple as testing your hot water instead of cold, or testing the water that instantly comes out of the faucet instead of after two minutes can make a difference. A few simple steps and precautions taken during the collection process will insure that your sample will be accurately analyzed.
Water samples can be easily contaminated during the collection process if done incorrectly. Some of the steps to avoiding contamination include NEVER:
If you are testing for bacteria, avoiding contamination will be especially important to avoid false positives. Additional steps should be taken, including:
WaterCheck Lab Test Sample Collection Guidlines
If you are collecting a water sample for the WaterCheck test kits, here are some important instructions:
Fill out the requisition form and include the information below. If you miss anything on the requisition, your sample might not be processed.
On the requisition form, write down if this is a re-sample. You also need to fill out section A (Drinking Water) and add any comments or special requests at the bottom of the requisition.
Thanks for reading!
There are a large number of water testing labs and test kits on the market for the home water well owner. This brief article looks at the different options you can choose from in order to make sure your water is safe. If you already understand your water is safe but are attempting to solve a specific well water problem such as staining, odors or corrosion there are a number of excellent home test kits now available. You can easily analyze your water in the convenience of your home and get immediate results.Read More
Nitrates and nitrites have become a concern in areas with excessive agricultural runoff or septic system use. Nitrate (NO3) is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless naturally occurring chemical. They are most commonly used as fertilizer and can enter our drinking water through agriculture runoff, leaking from septic tanks, sewage, and erosion of natural deposits. Read More
Coliform is a type of harmless bacteria found naturally in the environment and in our bodies. According to the EPA, coliform is “not a health threat in itself; it is used to indicate whether other potentially harmful bacteria may be present.” The presence of coliform in water is a strong indicator of recent sewage or animal waste contamination, which may contain disease-causing organisms like E. coli.
The municipal water distribution system, a modern miracle, would not be possible without chlorination or similar disinfectants. Chlorine destroys disease-producing organisms and prevents their proliferation by disrupting microbial DNA and RNA. Another benefit is the improvement of water quality resulting from the reaction of chlorine with ammonia, iron, manganese and organic substances, allowing additional filtration and sedimentation processes to run smoothly.
If you’ve experienced foul “rotten egg” or sulfur odors in your water, it may be that your water is contaminated with high levels of hydrogen sulfide or methane gas. At low levels, these gases are generally harmless. At high levels, however, they are at best a nuisance and at worst, a serious health concern. Read More
A Guide to Chloride: Its Effects, How to Test for It Chloride is one of the most common anions found in tap water. It generally combines with calcium, magnesium, or sodium to form various salts: for example, sodium chloride (NaCl) is formed when chloride and sodium combine. Chloride occurs naturally in ground water, but is found in greater concentrations where seawater and run-off from road salts (salts used to de-ice icy roads) can make their way into water sources. As such, well owners near snowy roads or road salting storage facilities are especially at risk for high levels of sodium chloride.Read More