High levels of naturally occurring arsenic and uranium was found in private well water across Connecticut, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.
The state Department of Public Health, with help from its state lab and local health officials, collected and analyzed water samples from more than 2,000 private wells statewide during the study — which built on a USGS report published in 2017. The new study includes additional groundwater samples and focuses on previously underrepresented areas.
The USGS said in places where high levels of arsenic or uranium were detected, health officials worked with residents to protect their water supply.
The research collected during the study indicated that nearly 4 percent of private wells across Connecticut have water with arsenic at concentrations higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for public drinking water. The data also showed that 4.7 percent of private wells have uranium concentrations higher than EPA standards.
“This report provides essential tools to citizens, health officials, well drillers, government officials and others for better protecting their communities and the environment,” said Eliza Gross, USGS physical scientist and lead author of the study. “The previous USGS study published in 2017 identified some areas where there were high contaminant levels, and we now have a more complete statewide assessment.”
Roughly 23 percent of Connecticut residents rely on private wells for their water supply.
Ryan Tetreault, supervisor of the state DPH’s Private Well Program, urged all well owners to have their water tested.
“Even though we know there are areas across our state that have higher concentrations than others, any private well in Connecticut has the potential to have elevated arsenic or uranium,” Tetreault said. “Private well owners should have their well water tested at least once for these contaminants.”
The naturally occurring metals are found in bedrock across the globe. The USGS said sometimes wells drilled into bedrock can produce water containing arsenic or uranium.
Health experts said arsenic exposure has been associated with various health issues, including increased cancer risk, low birth weight in babies, decreased child intellectual development and immune system suppression. Ingestion of uranium has been linked to kidney disease, officials said.
State officials urge homeowners with private wells to contact an environmental lab approved to test water. A list of labs in Connecticut can be found here.
For resources on testing and treatment for arsenic, click here.
For resources on testing and treatment for uranium, click here.