If you use pesticides to maintain a lawn or keep bugs at bay, annual testing of your well is a recommended to ensure the health and safety of your water supply. Often, testing finds that your water is safe, and you’re all set for another year of worry free use. But what if your test returns unacceptable levels of pesticides contamination in your groundwater? What can you do to ensure that any levels of contamination can be removed or treated?
Information On Pesticides
Pesticides consist of a large group of chemicals used in both agricultural and residential applications to control weed and animal infestation. There are several classes of pesticides currently used and include:
- Herbicides – to control weeds in both residential, commercial and agricultural areas
- Insecticides – used to control grub, termite, ant and beetle infestation
- Nematocides – to control worms
- Fungicides – used to control molds, mildew, and rusts
Pesticides are commonly used in commercial applications, such as fruit orchards and farms, golf courses, as well as private residences, apartment and condominium communities. Some, such as insecticides and fungicides can also be used inside homes and other buildings.
These chemicals can enter your well several different ways. Surface water runoff after heavy rains can carry pesticides from their application site into lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Rain and snowmelt can move them through the soil into the groundwater. Improperly stored, or improperly applied pesticides such as those used in termite control can also seep into groundwater. Some do not break down easily in water and can remain in trace amounts for years or even decades.
The Health Effects of Water Bourne Pesticides
Health risks vary depending upon factors like what kind and amount of chemicals were used, how long they are consumed and the person’s overall health. Acute pesticide poisoning symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, stomach and intestinal upset. In extreme cases, people can experience numbness in the extremities, spasms, convulsions or heart attack. Typical levels found in drinking water are usually low and pose little health risk. However, in some cases, the chemicals may remain in the body. Little is known about the long-term effects of minimal exposure, and further study is needed.
There are currently over 50,000 different products, composed of over 600 different chemicals on the market. The EPA is currently re-evaluating all pesticides registered before 1972 to bring them up to today’s standards.
Testing for Pesticides in Well Water
Water testing is available for detecting chemicals in well water. They can be expensive, so you should only test if you have reason to believe you well may be contaminated. Testing your well for Nitrite levels can indicate if you’ll need further testing. Contact us or your local water or health department to obtain a list of state certified labs and well water contractors. We can help you to determine the source, type of contamination and treatment options available to you.
If your well test positive, you should immediately switch to bottled water until the problem is resolved. Your well professional can outline the various options and costs of systems such as drilling a deeper well, treating with granulated activated carbon, or installing a reverse osmosis system in your home.
Prevention starts with the safe storage, application and disposal of a product containing dangerous chemicals. If your annual test shows high levels of nitrites, contact a state certified well water professional at Skillings & Sons to discuss your options.