Private wells should be tested for arsenic, uranium

The state Department of Public Health on Monday announced it is recommending that private well owners test their wells for arsenic and uranium.

These naturally occurring metals are found in groundwater in sporadic locations across the state and can lead to adverse health effects, the health department said in a news release.

“Recent well testing in various towns around Connecticut has found arsenic and uranium,” said DPH Epidemiologist Brian Toal. “While the distribution of contaminated wells has been sporadic, there have been enough findings statewide to prompt recommended testing for both metals in all Connecticut towns.”

Wells should be tested at the time of sale of the home and also when a new well is drilled. Wells should be tested again every five years. If levels are found to be higher than state or federal criteria, homeowners have a number of effective treatment options to lower levels of the metals to less concerning levels. The cost for testing for both metals can range between $65 and $100, the health department said.

“The only way to know if these metals are present in your private well is to have your well tested,” Toal said. “Since tests for arsenic and uranium are not usually part of a standard well analysis, homeowners will need to specifically ask labs to analyze for these metals.”

Arsenic and uranium are metals that occur naturally in bedrock all over the world. When groundwater comes in contact with the bedrock, the metals may leach out and contaminate private wells. Both metals are considered toxic and can have a variety of adverse health effects if people are exposed at high enough levels and for a long period of time.

Arsenic is classified as a human cancer-causing agent, which has been associated with increased risk of lung, bladder and skin cancers. The type of uranium found in groundwater is not considered a radioactive risk and is therefore not a major cancer concern. However, the toxicity of the uranium metal has been associated with adverse effects on kidney function.

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