TESTS

Lead

 

 

Lead exists throughout our physical environment. We are exposed to very small amounts each day, usually with no ill health effects. However, the pipes and other components (such as faucets, valves, or fittings) in household plumbing may contain lead. If they do, lead may dissolve into the water. The longer the water stands idle in the plumbing pipes and components, the more lead that can dissolve into the water. The simplest method to reduce lead exposure from drinking water is to turn on the cold water tap each morning, and let it run for a minute or two, until the water gets cold. This will flush out the standing water that may have dissolved lead. 

 

 

Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the body. Young children, infants, and unborn babies are particularly at risk of lead poisoning that could affect their cognitive abilities. 

Houses and buildings built prior to 1986 are at a particular risk since they were built with lead pipes and lead solder. Newer facilities are made without the lead solder. However, fixtures such as taps, pasta arms, and faucets can still contain lead. 

  

 

The EPA  sets the federal maximum contaminant level at 15.0 µg/L for safe drinking water, with the exception of schools. Schools must have 20.0 µg/L or less to be considered safe.

 

For more information see the following link from MN Department of Health: 

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/docs/wells/waterquality/lead.pdf

  

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Health Effects

Overview

Safe Levels

Bacteria

Arsenic

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Overview

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Arsenic is an odorless and tasteless semi-metallic element. Because it occurs naturally in the environment and as a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities, arsenic can enter drinking water through the ground or as run-off into surface water sources.

Health effects might include thickening and discoloration of the skin, nausea, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis, and blindness. Arsenic has been linked to certain types of cancer: bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.

Because much of Minnesota has glacial deposits, arsenic varies geographically. What might be considered a high arsenic result in one geographical area could be normal in another. For example, western suburbs such as Minnetonka will have a naturally higher content of arsenic than Duluth. Knowing your well's arsenic levels will assist you in knowing what treatment you may need.  See below to see how your county ranks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map sourced from Minnesota Department of Health at https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/wells/waterquality/arsenic.html

 

 

 

 

The EPA  sets the federal maximum contaminant level at 10.0 µg/L for safe drinking water. MN Department of Health recommends testing every 5 years. Arsenic is especially prevalent in the west metro.

For more information see the following link from MN Department of Health: 

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/docs/wells/waterquality/arsenic.pdf

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Health Effects

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Safe Levels

 
 
 

Nitrate

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Overview

Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical made of nitrogen and oxygen. It is found in air, soil, water, and plants. Much of the nitrate in our environment comes from decomposition of plants and animal wastes. People also add nitrate to the environment in the form of fertilizers. Natural levels of nitrate groundwater are usually quite low. Elevated nitrate levels in groundwater are often caused by run-off from barnyards or feedlots, excessive use of fertilizers, or septic systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

High levels of nitrate in drinking water pose a special risk to infants. They can develop a condition called “blue baby syndrome” - which affects how blood can carry oxygen to the rest of the body. 

Most concentrations above 3 mg/L are in central and southeastern Minnesota. Concentrations above 10 mg/L are mainly in central and southwestern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture  Township Testing Program found that over 10 percent of the private wells sampled in some townships in southwestern, southeastern, central, and north-central Minnesota have nitrate levels above 10 mg/L.

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Map sourced from Minnesota Department of Health at https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/wells/waterquality/nitrate.html

 

 

 

 

 

The EPA  sets the federal maximum contaminant level at 10.0 mg/L for safe drinking water. We report total nitrate+nitrite. MN Department of Health recommends testing nitrate every year. 

For more information see the following link from MN Department of Health: 

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/docs/wells/waterquality/nitrate.pdf

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Safe Levels

Coliform Bacteria

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Overview

Coliform is a large group of bacteria that occurs throughout the environment. They are used as “indicator organisms”. In other words, if coliform bacteria are present in the water supply, other disease causing microorganism may be also present. Sources of contamination can include faulty septic systems, surface run-off, and faulty or not well maintained household plumbing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consuming contaminated water may cause gastrointestinal illness, fever, and other

flu-like symptoms.

 

 

If the sample tests present for coliform bacteria, we then test to see if the bacteria is

E. coli.

E. coli

E. coli is the type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. A positive test result is strongly indicative of animal and human waste contamination. Although some strains of E. coli are harmless, a few of them can cause severe illness.

Coliform bacteria is reported as absent or present. Therefore, if the sample tests present it does not meet EPA guidelines for safe drinking water.  

For more information see the following link from MN Department of Health: 

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/docs/wells/waterquality/bacteria.pdf

Safe Levels

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Health Effects

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