Well Water Should be Tested Annually to Reduce Health Risks to Children
Private well water needs to be tested yearly, and in some cases more often, according to new guidance offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), took a lead role in working with the AAP to develop these recommendations and draft a new AAP policy statement about the things parents should do if their children drink well water.
Akinso: Private well water should be tested yearly to reduce health risks to children.
Rogan: We hope that people will be aware that they have responsibility for their own drinking water when they are on a well.
Akinso: Dr. Walter Rogan is an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the lead author of a policy statement on private well water that appears in the journal Pediatrics.
Rogan: This one is about drinking water in private wells and children. It outlined some background information background water in wells and makes recommendations about what families should do if they have kids and are getting their water from a private well.
Akinso: The new policy statement, "Drinking Water from Private Wells and Risks to Children" points out that water contamination is inherently local, and that families with wells need to keep in contact with state and local health experts to determine what should be tested in their community.
Rogan: All authorities recommend that you test once a year for coliform bacteria, which is an indication of sewage contamination of the water and for nitrate contamination, which is an indication of both sewage and fertilizer. These are both common occurrences in wells and are important in terms of the possibility of illness occurring in the families.
Akinso: The presence of nitrates can be a problem particularly for infants under three months who can not metabolize nitrate. Water with a nitrate concentration of more than 10 milligrams per liter should not be used to prepare infant formula or given to a child younger than one year according to Dr. Rogan. He says the policy statement suggests using bottled water for infants when nitrate contamination is detected, or when the source of drinking water is unknown.
Rogan: The health department should be able to provide you with a list of certified testers or may even provide you with containers that you can turn water to them and they'll test it for you. Commercial kits are available. You can go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy kits but we couldn't find much published information that said they were accurate. So until that information exist people are better off checking with the health department.
Akinso: Dr. Rogan adds that some parts of the country may have arsenic, radon, salt intrusion or agricultural runoff that may get into the water supply. For more information, including viewing the policy statement, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Walter Rogan
Topic: Children, Well Water, water contamination