Your Drinking Water and Your Health by Brian Oram
Even though 60% of the human body is water, water is a resource that is often taken for granted. The primary concerns with water relate to having adequate quantity of the proper quality. In terms of hydration, drinking water is probably one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Water is used in your body to help maintain your temperature and ensures the proper operation of your circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. Water is one of the pathways that potential contaminants and disease causing agents can enter the body, so the quality is also important. Therefore, we need drinking water of adequate quantity of the proper quality.
When the body is not properly hydrated, our body’s response is to make us feel thirsty, but if you miss this clue watch out for dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and fainting. If over hydrated, you can become water intoxicated or hyperhydration. If hyperhydration occurs, the kidneys can not process all the water and the system becomes overwhelmed. There are phone apps and other tools to help you to remember to drink enough water, but our general recommendation is if you feel thirsty it is time to get a drink and given a choice pick water.
Water comes in many forms, which can include premium bottled water, tap water, spring water, carbonated water, soda, coffee, tap water, nutrient infused water, juices, and purified water. Of all these, it is my professional opinion that we just need to drink water. The two most common sources of drinking water for a community is either public water or a private water source. A public water source is always regulated by both the federal and state governments and many may call this city water or tapwater, but well or spring water may be from a public or private source. If you get your water directly from a well or spring, this is a private source and this is not commonly regulated.
If you get your water from city water, the most common health concerns are related to the presence of chlorine-by-products or corrosive by-product in the United States, the public water supply systems are disinfected using various forms of chlorine and phosphate is added to attempt to control corrosion. The chlorine is used to disinfect the water, but it can react with naturally occurring organics to form trihalomethanes, i.e., a potential carcinogen; while phosphate will react with the metals in the water to form a scale or coating on the inside of the piping, see “Flint, Michigan”. If you are on well water, the most common problems are the presence of bacteria and elevated levels of salts in the water, like nitrate, chloride, and sulfate, or corrosive water. In some cases, the water may contain elevated levels of radionuclides and trace metals, like arsenic, iron, lead, and manganese. The quality of the drinking water depends on type of water, location, level of treatment, the condition of your plumbing, and your home or house. In some areas, the community is concerned about pipelines and natural gas development, but a hidden problem may be the existing quality of their drinking water.
For citizens, our general recommendations related to drinking water are:
1. City Water Customers- Review any annual “Consumer Confident Reports” produced by your water supplier and act accordingly.
2. Private Water Sources –Get your water tested, at least annually, and have the results review by an expert.
3. Look out for potential problems with your drinking water, based on what you can see, taste, smell, or otherwise detect with your senses or problems that may be caused by the water.
4. Download our free “Know Your H20 Phone App” or visit our website – all Free.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.
We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!
The Keystone Clean Water Team was very happy to work with the local “Poconos Region” Property Owners Association to offer a private well water screening test for the residents drinking water. For the 2016 program, a total of 16 residents participated in the program and for this program water testing was offered at two different tiers. The basic tier provide general information related to the bacterial quality of the water and level of nitrate, iron, and total hardness. The advanced tier provided testing for trace metals such as arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and more comprehensive analysis of the overall quality of the water. The following is a summary of the results:
2 samples were positive for total coliform bacteria, but no samples were positive for E. coli.;
1 sample exceeded the drinking water standard for lead and 5 other samples had detectable levels of lead in the water;
13 of the 16 samples contained detectable levels of nitrate, but at no point did the level exceed or approach the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L;
1 sample had elevated levels of manganese, but 3 had detectable levels of manganese in the water; and
15 of the 16 samples were considered slightly to corrosive to metal piping and 1 sample was considered very corrosive to metal piping.
The pH of the water ranged for 6.2 to 7.5 and only two samples had a pH that was less than the recommended drinking water standard of 6.5. These samples were associated with water that had detectable levels of lead, but not the highest level of lead. The sample with the highest level of lead appeared to be a sample collected at the kitchen sink after the water had been treated with a water softener.
From this snapshot, we learned the following:
- There appears to be a 13 % probability that a private well may contain total coliform bacteria.
- The water produced from the aquifer tends to be slightly corrosive and have total hardness that ranges from 30 to 150 mg/L.
- The groundwater does not appear to have elevated levels of nitrate.
- The groundwater does not appear to have E. coli. bacteria.
- Lead was detected in some water samples, but the occurrence in the well water is related to the corrosiveness of the water, type of water treatment, and type of plumbing fixtures in the home and not the groundwater aquifer.
- Homeowners that reported problems with sulfur odor or black particles were the same homeowners that had elevated or detectable level of manganese.
- If you are considering the use of a water softener, please consider the type of household plumbing and it may be necessary to install a neutralizing filter.
Based on these results, we recommend that all private well owners conduct an annual water quality test. To facilitate this effort, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers an online mail order informational water testing program for private well owners throughout the USA and we offer our Know Your H20? Free Phone App. To learn about our mail order program, please visit us at http://www.water-research.net or http://www.knowyourh20.us. If you have any questions, please call or email 570-335-1947 or email@example.com.
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
“The Tendr coalition includes pediatric neurologists, several minority physician associations, nurses, learning disability advocacy groups, environmental organizations, and the Endocrine Society, which has compiled several scientific statements documenting adverse health effects linked to endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic or disrupt the hormones in our own bodies. Dozens of scientists and health providers have signed the statement, as has Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.”
How to Limit Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
A coalition of doctors, scientists and health advocates says you may be able to reduce your overall exposure to toxic chemicals by taking the following steps:
- Reduce pesticide exposure by choosing organic strawberries, apples, nectarines, green beans, celery and spinach. (This may be expensive, you may want to consider growing your own or at least washing and rinsing the items or buying from a USA Source).
- Choose seafood low in mercury like salmon, sardines, and trout. (Limit the intake of bottom feeders).
- Breast-feed your baby if you can; if you use formula, make sure the water is lead-free. (Lead-free water may require the installation of a point of use water treatment system).
- When buying furniture with padding like a high chair, sofa or mattress, ask for products that are labeled free of toxic flame retardants.
- Avoid exposing the family to tobacco smoke, wood smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves, idling car exhaust, cooking fumes from stoves and grills.
- If you’re putting in a new floor, choose either phthalate-free vinyl flooring or wood, bamboo or cork. (Check on the sources of the materials).
- Avoid plastic toys, backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can be a source of phthalates. (This may be tough- First Choice Buy Made in the USA).
- Choose fragrance-free personal care products to avoid phthalates in fragrances . (Try naturally scent oils)
- When using stool softeners, laxatives and other time-release capsules, look for phthalates on the list of inactive ingredients so you can avoid them. (How about eat more fiber).
- Use nontoxic alternatives to pesticides in your yard and on your pets. (or use them as directed)
- Screen your house for lead. If it was built before 1978, lead paint may place your family at risk. If paint is chipping or peeling, it can build up in house dust and stick to children’s hands. (Lead Paint Testing and Comprehensive Water Testing)
- Reduce household dust that may contain lead, flame retardants, phthalates and pesticides. Take shoes off before you come into the house and use a doormat to trap dirt outside and inside the doorway. Damp mop, use a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner and dust with a microfiber cloth. (Least us not forget Mold and Radon)
Know Your H20 – Get a Community Hazard Report
Understanding the Health Risks of Private Well Ownership
Guest blogger / writer – Julie Bowen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As a country, we are proud of our reputation for having the safest and cleanest drinking water in the world. However drinking water that is procured from privately owned wells is not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or many state agencies, meaning that the owners of those wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe and drinkable. Water from private wells tastes crisp and refreshing, and it can be a wonderful gift to own your own water source. It is also important to acknowledge that many residents living in rural areas have no choice but to procure their water from private wells or cisterns. However, regardless of the reasons that their water is sourced from private wells, it is essential that private well owners are aware of the health risks involved in private well ownership as well as the myriad of benefits that they can obtain.
The Risks of Water Contamination
Drinking water from wells can be contaminated in a variety of different ways: either due to naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, the land use and farming practices in the area surrounding the well, and a malfunction of the wastewater treatment systems operating on the well itself. As a result of this, there are a wide range of illnesses that can be contracted via drinking contaminated well water. These can range from short-term gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses that includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to more severe long term illnesses such as reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and other chronic illnesses. Death by drinking water is not common, but it has happened. Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as children, pregnant women, and elderly people, are more vulnerable to the effects of certain contaminates and should be especially vigilant about the quality of their privately owned drinking water.
Two of the parasitic illnesses private well owners should be most aware of are Hepatitis A and Giardia (which is the parasite that causes the illness giardiasis, a common cause of diarrhea). Giardiasis is a relatively short lived condition, that is caused by water becoming contaminated by either mammalian or human feces. The parasite itself is resistant to basic chlorination, meaning that it tends to be particularly resistant to water treatment methods, however once infected most individuals have overcome the illness in approximately 7 days. More deadly are the risks posed by the liver condition hepatitis A, which is a highly contagious illness that is also contracted via the fecal oral route, due to water contaminated by infected feces. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection, but the symptoms can be severe and pose a particular risk to vulnerable individuals.
Taking the Appropriate Precautions
Because of the risks of being exposed to contaminated drinking water, it is recommended that in addition to regularly checking the quality of your drinking water, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure it avoids contamination, private home owners also secure comprehensive health insurance. This will help them to ensure that they are fully protected in the unlikely instance that something should go wrong with their water supply, and they should contract one of the myriad of illnesses listed above.
The Keystone Clean Water Team (KCWT) is committed to ensuring that home owners with responsibility for private wells are given the support, the information, and the technology that they need to ensure that their well based drinking water is as clean and as safe as possible. The quality of well water should be tested at least three times a year, and the well itself should be regularly repaired and maintained to protect the water that is inside. When it comes to modern well technology, knowledge is power, so it is important to be as informed as possible about what is happening inside your well, and well as any possible risks that you face. The process involved in maintaining healthy well water can seem complicated, and the language involved in the process unnecessarily convoluted, which is why The Keystone Clean Water Team can help homeowners interpret their test results and ensure their water is as safe as it can be.
A few thoughts from the KCWT:
- When people say may water taste great and looks great – I have no problem – 50% of the time they have a problem that can make them sick.
- Of these individuals, 50% of the time the problem can be eliminated for a few hundred dollars.
- Some recent work on lead in drinking water found that 2 out of 3 private well samples had elevated lead; whereas only 1 out of 10 city water samples had a lead issue. Testing your well water quality is important, but you must understand our risks.
- Blood lead testing is important for kids – get it done if you are living an older community that has or had historic industrialization.
A few suggestions:
- Download our free phone App.
- Get Your Water Tested (Portion of the Proceeds Help the KCWT)
- Get a Custom Neighborhood Hazard Report
- Order the Private Well Owner Educational Guide
B.F. Environmental Builds Expertise into New Water Quality Mobile App
Company experts have developed a new tool that will help families stay healthy
WILKES-BARRE, PA—September 22, 2015—B.F. Environmental Consultants, an environmental consulting firm providing a range of services throughout the Northeast, announced today the launch of a new mobile app that will make it possible for homeowners to get answers about the quality of their drinking water. Brian Oram, a professional geologist and soil scientist and founder of B.F. Environmental Consultants, developed this new diagnostic tool, called “Know Your H2O?”
“Consumers have fully embraced mobile technologies. If we want to help them, we’re going to have to make our information available to them through their IOS and Android devices,” Oram said. “This new app will put actionable information about water quality into the hands of homeowners all across the country. I’m very proud of this new product.”
Know Your H2O? relies heavily upon the massive online water quality resource the company has made available through the launch of its Water Research Center website. The first version of the software helps consumers diagnose potential water quality problems by exploring aesthetic problems, physical problems, health concerns, or specific problems in their homes. The app is supported by additional content that is directly linked to the Water Research Center.
“This tool helps consumers diagnose problems, but then goes beyond that to provide recommendations for further testing or corrective action,” Oram said. “The app is based on a holistic approach and is guided by concerns about our water, homes, and health. It is a comprehensive tool that can be used by any homeowner, building inspector, water quality professional, or water treatment professional to diagnose a problem and determine next steps.”
For more information about the mobile app or to download your own free copy, visit: http://knowyourh2o.us
About B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc.
B.F. Environmental Consultants, based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, has been providing professional geological, soils, hydrogeological, and environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists), environmental monitoring, overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/ commercial water supply sources; environmental training/ professional training courses, and other environmental services. For more information about B.F. Environmental Consultants, visit www.bfenvironmental.com and www.water-research.net.
The Wayne Tomorrow Action Committee invited the Keystone Clean Water Team to compile and develop a presentation on the general water quality, water availability, and some general recommendations related to groundwater resources in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. The Keystone Clean Water Team had Mr. Brian Oram, a local water quality expert and professional geologist, review the information and conduct the presentation for the Keystone Clean Water Team. During the education session, the members of the Wayne Tomorrow Action Committee and the Sustainability Committee for Wayne Tomorrow was present. A copy of the presentation Wayne County Planning for Our Future is available. For this training event, the following sponsors were recognized:
1. Private Wells are not regulated in Pennsylvania and there are NO minimum construction standards.
2. About 50% of private wells in Pennsylvania appear to have at least one water quality problem and causes the water to NOT meet the PADEP Drinking Water Standards.
3. Common problem is the pH of the water is low and the water is corrosive. Corrosive water can increase the concentration of trace metals like copper/lead/zinc (plumbing and fixtures) and iron/manganese/aluminum/arsenic (aquifer).4. From the USGS Study – 97 % of private wells have radon over 300 pCi/L, 6 Percent have elevated arsenic, well water with a pH of over 7.8 may be associated with the presence of methane, arsenic, fluoride, sodium, bromide, lithium, boron, and chloride. (Speaker note: Well water with a pH of 8.0 or more may be influenced by naturally occurring saline water).
5. Analysis – The County could consider using the GIS System to conduct Groundwater Vulnerability Analysis, Availability Analysis, and Identify the location of historic or current hazards of concern.
6. In general, Wayne County can use a basic water budgeting analysis to evaluate project sustainability and if possible promote the use of on-site well and septic system with proper installation and maintenance. The example demonstrated how projects could be analyzed to determine the estimated development capacity of a project based on water availability.
7. The Organization or County can not allocate water – this is the role of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
8. Wayne County is appears that 35 to 45 % of rainfall contributes to baseflow for the region.
9. Advisable to develop a County or Local Agency – Well Construction Standard.
10. Educational Materials are Available for PA from the Keystone Clean Water Team. The Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501c3 and donations are appreciated.
Everything we do began with an idea.
We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.
We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot. Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !
Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization. Through our program we can recycle cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras. If your interested, please contact us. Our new PSAs.
Pennsylvania New Guideline for Baseline Testing – Minimum Parameters Natural Gas Development- Pre-Drill
In April 2014, the PADEP released a new list of suggested baseline testing parameters. PADEP recommended Basic Oil and Gas- Pre-Drill Parameters. The new listing is as follows:
Total Dissolved Solids
Suggested Additions by PADEP
Total Suspended Solids
Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons – West PA strong Recommendation.
Get a copy of the PADEP Document.
1. We are glad to see that PADEP is updating the list of parameters, but there are still a few parameters that are missing. If possible, we would suggest that you speak with a professional and evaluate the need to add BTEX or the 21 – regulated/unregulated VOCs with MTBE, surfactants, and if you currently have low pH and a corrosion related issue – copper and lead.
2. If the well is deep and does have issues with chloride or Total dissolved solids approaching a drinking water standard , we would recommend testing for alpha/beta and uranium.
3. If you have a radon in air mitigation system, we recommend testing radon in water.
4. If you have sulfur or rotten egg odors, we would recommend standard plate count, nuisance bacteria, documentation of the odor and characteristics of the water, and testing for sulfide.
5. If you have a septic system or you are located near a farm, we would strongly recommend adding nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia.
6. The pH, conductivity, temperature, and ORP should be documented in the field and the pH and conductivity should be checked in the laboratory. In addition, it would be advisable to measure the turbidity in the field. If laboratory testing is going to be conducted a shorter holding time should be used and the sample measured ASAP. In addition, the sample collector should not the appearance, color, odor, or other aesthetic quality of the water.
More Information on the Groundwater Quality in PA and Baseline Testing
We also offer educational workshops on this topic and help provide citizens evaluate their water quality.
We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving the Keystone Clean Water Team (CCGG Program), enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners. We look for people that can forward solid articles, help coordinate local education efforts, and more. Become part of the Keystone Clean Water Team!.
Everything we do began with an idea.
We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot. Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests ! Get educated on Drinking Water Quality in Pennsylvania.
Keystone Clean Water Team /Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. The IRS Officially Approved Name change to the Keystone Clean Water Team by the IRS. Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission).
What is arsenic?
Arsenic is a semi-metal, a member of the nitrogen family. It occurs naturally in the earth and in the seas. It is odorless and tasteless. Arsenic is an element (As) that occurs in the earth’s crust-rock, soil, all natural sources of exposure, or can be traced to deep water brines used to produce oil and natural gas. Consumption of food and water are the major sources of arsenic exposure for the majority of US citizens. People may also be exposed from industrial sources, as arsenic is used in semiconductor manufacturing, petroleum refining, wood preservatives, animal feed additives, and herbicides.
Arsenic can combine with other elements to form inorganic and organic arsenicals. In general, inorganic derivatives are regarded as more toxic than the organic forms. While food contains both inorganic and organic arsenicals, primarily inorganic forms are present in water. Exposure to arsenic at high levels poses serious health effects as it is a known human carcinogen. In addition, it has been reported to affect the vascular system in humans and has been associated with the development of diabetes.
As compared to the Western part of the United States, it is relatively rare contaminant in Pennsylvania groundwater supplies. A recent survey by the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) found that arsenic exceeded 5 ppb in 8% of wells in Pennsylvania. Recent work in Northeastern Pennsylvania – Indicates that it that the occurrence may be slightly higher.
What are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning?
Observable symptoms of arsenic poisoning are: thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis, and blindness.
How does arsenic enter my private water system?
It is widely thought that naturally occurring arsenic dissolves out of certain rock formations when ground water levels drop significantly. Surface arsenic-related pollutants enter the ground water system by gradually moving with the flow of ground water from rains, melting of snow, etc. Either way, ongoing testing for arsenic is an important strategy by the private water system owner to safeguard the health and well being of their family.
Is my private well at risk?
Like many contaminants in drinking water, the element is potentially hazardous at levels or concentrations that do not impart a noticeable taste, odor, or appearance to the water. Your best course of action is to get you water tested and compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use, and local geology. If you do have an arsenic problem, there are water treatment technologies available now that can reduce or even remove arsenic from your drinking water. Note: Do not just test your water for Arsenic because there may be other primary and secondary drinking water standards that are elevated or that may interfere with the proposed remediation system.
We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.
Everything we do began with an idea.
We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.. Unsolicited donations are appreciated.
Well Water Testing Common Well Water Problems – Based on over 20 Years Experience First Step Water Testing
Common Water Well Owners Problems- The Need for Well Water Testing
This website was development to provide a quick summary and reference related to some of the most common well water problems that are encountered or reported.
Problem 1 – I tested my water and it is Total Coliform Positive and I was told the water is not potable. What do I do? What treatment system do I need? Is my family safe?
Have a professional or licensed well driller inspect the well and conduct a shock disinfection of the well and distribution system (add a high dose of chlorine to the water, recirculate, and then flush it out – but not into an on-site sewage treatment system. After the well and system have been flushed, the water should be immediately tested for total coliform bacteria.
Problem 2 – My water is black and sometimes red or orange. What toxic chemical causes this ? Should I be buying bottled water??
Get the water tested – it is most likely iron and manganese. If you have never had the water tested, we would recommend a relatively comprehensive screening water test. The color of the water will depend on the pH and form of the iron and manganese. If the water enters the house clear and becomes discolored with time, the metals are dissolved in the water in a reduced form. If the water enters the home slightly discolored and the color gets darker or deeper, it is probably a combination of reduced (dissolved) and oxidized (particle) form. The solution will depend on the water testing results, but if you have an odor to the water or slime coatings the problem may also be caused by a slime or iron bacteria. Learn More at Iron/Manganese or Slime Bacteria.
Problem 3: My well water gets dirty after it rains and I get intermittent bacterial positive tests.
This could be a problem with the well casing, well construction, pitless adapter, or well cap. The first action may be to inspect the well, change the well cap to a sanitary well cap, and conduct a shock disinfection. If this does not correct the problem, you may need to inspect the well. This would be a camera survey of the wellbore and you would want to check for problems related to the pitless adapter, welds on the casing, integrity of the steel casing, and the presence of cascading or intermittent water bearing zones just below the casing or driveshoe.
Most Significant Problem
Improperly sited and constructed wells create a significant risk. These wells short-circuit the natural flow of freshwater and in many cases can facilitate groundwater contamination. The state of Pennsylvania and others need to create a program to fix private wells that make our Waters vulnerable to contamiantion. For PA – this was not caused by the wellowner, but caused by the lack of vision and proper regulations related to the siting and construction of private wells and permitting private wells to be installed in areas where available data suggested or indicated elevated levels of arsenic, iron, manganese, barium, and even saline water. We need to act as a community to fix this problem and use funding to Fix Poorly Constructed Private Wells – Remember We ALL Live Downstream – Be Part of the Solution – Help Fix and Protect OUR Waters. (Oram, 2013)
Content of this webpage is copyrighted by B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc – Permission was granted to use this information to create this webpage. The source of the information is the Private Well Owner Guide – Well Water Testing.
Website Provided for Educational Purpose.
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. We are trying to keep Well Water in Pennsylvania the Keystone State Clean, Healthy, and Safe.