By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

glass of waterMore than 44 million Americans get their water from private domestic wells, most of which are unregulated. Of those, a new study says that about two million people could be exposed to high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in their water.

The study, appearing in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Environmental Science & Technology journal, notes that arsenic contamination can cause health problems, including cancers, as well as affect fetal growth and premature births. Municipal water treatment systems can filter out the chemic, but private well owners are left to monitor and maintain their water.

ACS researchers examined wells across the U.S., and included regional rainfall, geology and aquifer chemistry in their analyses. They compared this data to EPA contaminant thresholds and found that New England, parts of the upper Midwest, the Southwest and southern Texas had the highest levels of arsenic – altogether, about 2.1 million people.

The researchers conclude that all private well owners should test their wells for arsenic. The information could help officials analyze health risks and come up with possible mitigation strategies.

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