High Arsenic Levels Well Water Testing Found in 8 Percent of Groundwater Wells Studied in Pennsylvania

The Need for Well Water Testing In Pennsylvania and other states

NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. – Eight percent of more than 5,000 wells tested across Pennsylvania contain groundwater with levels of arsenic at or above federal standards set for public drinking water, while an additional 12 percent – though not exceeding standards – show elevated levels of arsenic. 

These findings, along with maps depicting areas in the state most likely to have elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater, are part of a recently released U.S. Geological Survey study done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Environmental Protection.

The results highlight the importance of private well owners testing and potentially treating their water.  While public water supplies are treated to ensure that water reaching the tap of households meets federal drinking water standards, private wells are unregulated in Pennsylvania, and owners are responsible for testing and treating their own water.

For this study, USGS scientists compiled data collected between 1969 and 2007 from industrial, public, and private wells. Arsenic levels, along with other groundwater quality and environmental factors, were used to generate statewide and regional maps that predict the probability of elevated arsenic.   The study examined groundwater from carbonate, crystalline, and shale/sandstone bedrock aquifers, and from shallow glacial sediment aquifers. Similar maps have been produced for other states.

“This research is not intended to predict arsenic levels for individual wells; its purpose is to predict the probability of elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater to help public health efforts in Pennsylvania,” said USGS scientist Eliza Gross, who led the study.  “The study results and associated probability maps provide water-resource managers and health officials with useful data as they consider management actions in areas where groundwater is most likely to contain elevated levels of arsenic.”

For more details go here (Some mapping available)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to use the maps as an educational tool to inform health professionals and citizens of the Commonwealth about the possibility of elevated arsenic in drinking water wells and to help improve the health of residents, particularly in rural communities.  Please consider forward you certified testing data to the Citizens Groundwater Database.

Private well owners can find testing and other information on Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Arsenic in Drinking Water website.

or Check out the Arsenic Outreach Program here – Has links to treatment options and low cost informational water testing.


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Amount of Spill Could Escalate, Company Admits

Amount of Spill Could Escalate, Company Admits
Published: May 4, 2010
A senior BP executive said the crippled oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico could spill as many as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow.

Tracking the Oil Spill


Published: May 1, 2010
Tracking the Oil Spill

The map sequence shows how the oil spill has been spreading in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Coast Guard

How safe is that plastic bottle?

When pregnant mice are exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in everyday plastics, such as sunglasses, drink bottles, shatterproof baby-bottles, and some dental sealants and fillings, exposure may adversely affect the mother, but also, disturb development in the unborn fetuses. In a recently released report, USGS scientists say even low doses of the chemical may affect the reproductive systems of male and female mice, organizational development of the brain, and metabolic processes. Evidence suggests that when exposed female fetuses reach adulthood, there is a greater potential for abnormal eggs and embryos. Learn more here (PDF) or contact Catherine Richter at (573) 876-1841 or crichter@usgs.gov.

USGS Office of Communications
Health Effects of Endocrine Disruptor Bisphenol A