View and download a public news release from the Connecticut Department of Public Health advising residents to have private wells tested for arsenic and uranium.
Fluoride occurs naturally in groundwater because it is a component of several different minerals in soil and bedrock. The amount of fluoride we consume is important because the benefits of low levels of exposure are outweighed by adverse effects at high levels. Dietary fluoride, in the right amount, promotes the development of strong permanent teeth. For this reason, fluoride is considered most beneficial for children less than 12 years of age. However, too much fluoride can cause teeth to discolor and weaken; a condition dentists call "dental fluorosis". Fluoride can also affect bone development.
The National Academy of Sciences most recent report on fluoride (March, 2006) stated that the existing drinking water standard from USEPA (4 milligrams per liter; a.k.a., mg/L or ppm) is too high. In general, levels in drinking water should be kept to 1 ppm or less to avoid overdose. This is especially the case because of other important sources of fluoride; including, toothpaste, mouth rinses, fluoride drops, and tea.
The extent to which fluoride in Connecticut groundwater contributes to the incidence of dental fluorosis is likely low in most cases. However, because fluoride concentrations in Connecticut groundwater have not been extensively surveyed, it is possible that localized areas of high fluoride exist. Fluoride has no smell or taste. Testing is therefore the only way to confirm that your well water does not contain excessive amounts of fluoride. You should let your dentist know the results of your fluoride well test. If your well water has fluoride levels near 1 ppm, your children will likely not need fluoride supplements to promote dental health.
For more information, call the Environmental And Occupational Health Section of the Connecticut Department of Health, at 860-509-7742.
Manganese is a mineral that naturally occurs in rocks and soil and is a normal constituent of the human diet. It exists in well water in Connecticut as a naturally occurring groundwater mineral, but may also be present due to underground pollution sources.
Manganese may become noticeable in tap water at concentrations greater than 0.05 milligrams per liter of water (mg/L) by imparting a color, odor, or taste to the water. However, health effects from manganese are not a concern until concentrations are approximately 10 times higher. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recently set a drinking water Action Level (AL) for manganese of 0.5 mg/L to ensure protection against manganese toxicity. This AL is consistent with the World Health Organization guidance level for manganese in drinking water. The Connecticut AL provides guidance for prudent avoidance of manganese concentrations of potential health concern. Local health departments can use the AL in making safe drinking water determinations for new wells, while the homeowner in consultation with local health authorities makes decisions regarding manganese removal from existing wells.
This fact sheet is intended to help individuals who have manganese in their water understand the health risks and evaluate the need for obtaining a water treatment system.
Standards and regulations for well construction and water testing have originated at several starting times in different government agencies and converged in time to the present configuration, which at times seems less than tidy. As a result, homeowners are subject to the old maxim of "buyer beware." As a general rule residents would be wise to remember that to own a house served by a private well is to own its water supply and any problems that may arise from it. Happily, well drillers are licensed professionals and wells are usually both safe and reliable, so that serious well and water contamination problems are rare.
In Connecticut, the Department of Consumer Protection licenses well drillers. New wells are constructed under permit by Local Health Departments, who approve the well location in compliance with the Connecticut Public Health Code before issuing the construction permit. After construction, the well driller must perform a yield test (number of gallons per minute) and file a well completion report with the Local Health Department. Yield limits vary greatly and minimum requirements are a factor of both the yield and the depth of the well, with lower yields requiring deeper wells.
Tests for drinking water quality are called potability tests and are conducted by laboratories licensed by the state. The tests measure a standard list of common water characteristics, which are divided into two levels of significance: "Maximum Contamination Level" and "Advisory Level". Water is considered safe to drink if no Maximum Contamination Level is exceeded. Well water for new houses must be tested and deemed safe to drink before a Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.
If private wells are tested within 6 months of the sale of an existing house the results will be sent to the local health department, however adverse test results do not result in Health Department action. In practice water testing is usually completed before, and is a condition of, closing. Remediation of adverse results is negotiated between buyer, seller and agents.
In rental situations, homeowners are required to provide "safe" drinking water for tenants, meaning water that does not exceed any Maximum Contamination Levels. However there is no requirement that water be regularly tested so that any testing would have to be initiated and paid for by the tenant unless some other agreement is reached.
The standard potability test is only one of many possible water tests, but the only one that is mandated in normal situations. Additional (and more expensive) testing may be indicated in areas that have been used for various commercial or industrial purposes.
The Madison Health Department records well drilling permits, well completion reports and water test results on microfilm, which may be viewed at the Land Use Office at the Town Campus.
Water treatment systems to alleviate drinking water problems are supplied by private companies and are not licensed or regulated, except by their own professional organizations. (However discharge of backwash from water treatment equipment is subject to regulation). A wealth of information about private wells is available online.
As of mid February, 2009, the Madison Health Department has received information about 150 well water tests for uranium throughout town, and about 15% of these well waters have uranium greater than the EPA standard of 30 micrograms per liter. Residents are urged to test their well water for the presence of uranium.
Uranium is a common element in bedrock in many parts of Connecticut and water from some drilled wells in Madison is likely to contain a detectable level of uranium. The form of uranium most common to this area does not pose a risk of radiation poisoning due to a half-life in the billions of years, but it is also a heavy metal and like cadmium, lead or other metals, it can accumulate in kidneys and in high concentrations over extended periods of time can adversely affect kidney function. Residents concerned about the potential health risks of uranium are encouraged to have their well water tested.
Three laboratories in Connecticut are licensed to test for uranium in including one in Madison. Other labs will arrange to ship samples to approved labs. Listed below are labs that are approved to test for uranium. For more information about uranium in drinking water go to the following websites.
- Environmental Consulting Laboratories
- MHW Laboratories
- Hazen Research, Inc.
- Paragon Analytics
Fort Collins, CO
- Premier Laboratory, Inc.
- RSA Laboratories, Inc.
- KNL Laboratory Services, Inc.
- Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
South Bend, IN
St. Louis, MO
Earth City, MO
- Eastern Analytical, Inc.
- Life Science Laboratories -
East Syracuse, NY
- Waste Stream Technology, Inc.
- Benchmark Analytics
Center Valley, PA
- PACE Analytical Services, Inc. -
- GEL Laboratories, LLC