Testing For Water Contamination - Illness Symptoms and Causes

Water Contamination Illness Symptoms and Causes

Read Our List Of Symptoms Caused By Well Water Contamination

Water contamination is a real threat. Even municipal systems that test regularly have been known to be contaminated with substances such as lead, giardia, cryptosporidium and other bacteria. While municipal systems are generally, tested, treated and completely safe, if you receive your water from a private well it's your responsibility to have your water tested annually for common contaminants.

While the EPA recommends private wells be tested at least annually. If you notice any change in the quality, color, odor or taste of your well water you should have it tested. Depending on the location of your well, testing should include checking for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites, excess minerals, and any locally known sources of potential water contamination.

If you live in a rural area where nearby land is used for agricultural use, or near industrial areas you may want to expand your testing to include other contaminants like fertilizers, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds. Your local well water professional can help you to determine if there are any specific local sources of water contamination that should be included in your annual testing.

Well Water Contamination: Health Effects

The health effects from drinking contaminated water vary widely. There can be no physical impact, or drinking contaminated water can cause severe illness or in extreme cases even death. The possible impact often depends on the physical condition and general health of the person. Infants, older people and those with compromised immune systems often can be impacted more severely.

Many factors effect the possible impact including the person's age and health as described above, the type of contaminant, the amount consumed and how long the person has been ingesting the contaminated water.

Some contaminants like lead and arsenic can accumulate in the body with no ill effects for sometimes years. Others like bacteria can have immediate health effects including gastrointestinal distress, stomach illnesses like nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea.

Long-term ingestion of substances like lead or other heavy metals can effect the person's immune system, kidneys, neurological system and other internal organs when consumed over a long period of time. Testing is critical to well health as many potential contaminants can have no odor, color, or taste making it impossible to tell if your well has been contaminated without testing.

Reasons To Test Your Well

The EPA recommends testing your private well at a minimum, annually. Beyond regular testing, there are several reasons to have your well tested. Some are immediate health issues, some are not dangerous but can affect the taste of your water and can indicate potential problems as well as effect your long-term well being.

For example, if members of your household have had a recurring gastrointestinal illness, you should test for coliform and bacteria. Additionally, if you live in an area of high agricultural use, bacteria may be a problem.

Other naturally occurring and man-made contaminants for example, lead or copper from your plumbing or corrosion in your pipes can also be a source of contamination. Make sure to include pH, lead, copper, and corrosion testing.

Nearby activities including gas stations, agricultural use of land, an industrial complex and Dumps or nearby junkyards or landfills can effect water supplies. If your well is at risk from any of these sources, consider adding volatile organic compounds, heavy metals like chloride, sodium, barium and strontium testing. Your local well water professional should be aware of any potential water issues and can recommend the appropriate tests.

Finally, these contaminants do not appear to have health effects associated with them, but they can alter the taste of your drinking water supply. Some may cause long-term health effects, but this has not been verified and is still undergoing examination.

If you live in a coastal area, or where there is heavy use of road salt, you may detect a salty taste. Likewise, if you live in an area with a high dissolved solids count, you may notice the signs of hard water. If you see scaly buildup on fixtures, sinks, or notice soaps do not properly lather or the water appears cloudy, you may choose to test for mineral content. While these are not major health issues (although water high in sodium may be a problem for people with high blood pressure) they can affect the performance of your appliances and are a bit of a nuisance. Speak with your local well water professional.

Water Contamination Solutions

If testing detects unacceptable levels of any of these contaminants, there are solutions. Whole house and point-of-use water treatment systems can remedy many of these issues. Others may require other forms of well treatment to resolve. The best solution is to ask your well water professionals for advice.

At Skillings & Sons, we understand the potential local quality issues of our customer's water and assist them with testing, analyzation, and treatment of their private water wells. If you detect any changes in your homes water quality or suspect your well may be contaminated, give us a call. We're always ready to help our customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with the quality and maintenance of their water well and quickly address any problems that may occur.