Well Water Tests Reveal Unsuspected Contaminants

People often resist purchasing a thorough well water test with a remark about the water being good except for a particular issue like high iron. It isn’t always the case but often times a thorough water test will reveal contaminants one never would have suspected. And if no other contaminants show up in test results that’s good too.

Just this week I had two such examples.

The first test the well water looks excellent to drink with two exceptions.
(measures are in mg/l unless otherwise noted)

calcium 13.8
magnesium 1
potassium 1.4
silica 23
sodium 7
zinc .01
alkalinity 48
hardness 38
pH 7.8
total dissolved solids 76
fluoride 1.4
radon 1348 pi/L

Testing reveals fluoride of 1.4 mg/l, which I would not want in my water. The health effects of fluoride are subject to a great deal of controversy. This level is within US EPA guidelines but if it were me I would want it removed.

And the radon level indicates that this person will be subject to inhaling radon and the carcinogenic effects (see radon post below) that entails.

My recommendation for this water includes whole house aeration treatment for radon and a kitchen water filter to reduce or remove fluoride. My Kitchen Defender will reduce the fluoride and may remove it entirely. If a person wants to be certain the fluoride is removed then reverse osmosis is the treatment to use.

In the second test we knew we had an iron issue we were aware of due to obvious iron staining. A test showed the following results:

arsenic .009
calcium 38.9
copper .01
iron .33 – .47
magnesium 4.6
manganese .048
potassium 2.4
silica 33.8
sodium 90
zinc .012
alkalinity 130
hardness 120
pH 7.2
total dissolved solids 390
turbidity 3.4
chloride 100
sulfate 40

In addition to the issue of iron the test reveals the presence of arsenic. While this level of arsenic is below the US EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) this customer is exhibiting symptoms of arsenic poisoning and the diagnosis has been eluding doctors. Dissolved solids are also high which would make the water less hydrating than is optimal.

My recommended treatment is an whole house iron system to remove iron, manganese, and raise pH and reverse osmosis customized to oxidize and remove arsenic.

Obtaining a well water test is the only way to know how to treat well water. In both of these cases the contaminants revealed by testing have serious health implications. The place to try to save money is not on the testing. With a proper well water test we can strive to provide the proper well water treatment system and thus not waste money buying the wrong equipment.

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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
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