Water Test Interpretation
The EPA sets water quality standards that public drinking water supplies must meet. Private wells are not regulated, but the EPA standards are widely "recommended". There are primary standards, which are related to health, and secondary standards, which pertain to aesthetic qualities of the water, like taste or staining characteristics.
The general quality of your water can be determined by comparing the "results" of your water test to the "standards" or recommended value in your report. If your water's value exceeds the recommended "standard" or concentration, you might want to consider ways to filter or clean up the water. Since we do not offer or recommend water filtration/mitigation companies, we are providing you with the following information so that you can make an informed decision regarding the possible use of water filters.
FLUORIDE - Fluoride occurs naturally in local bedrock wells. It has been considered beneficial by the EPA at lower concentrations, but it is a health concern at higher concentrations. (Call your doctor or dentist with questions about fluoride).
CHLORIDE - Chloride is present in most waters, and is not considered harmful by the EPA at concentrations up to 250 mg/L. Higher concentrations can occur naturally along the seacoast, or may indicate road salt use. Since sodium chloride is a major component of sewage, high chloride may indicate sewage contamination. High chloride may be harmful to metallic pipes, and may indicate an unhealthy level of salt for people.
NITRATE and NITRITE- nitrate is considered unhealthy because of its conversion in the body to nitrite. Nitrite causes methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome), a serious condition harmful to infants and to women during pregnancy. nitrite can react under acidic conditions to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. Both nitrate and nitrite are found in sewage and wastes from humans and farm animals. Nitrate is a component of fertilizer, so agricultural run-off may be responsible for elevated nitrate levels in your water.
COLIFORM BACTERIA - Coliform bacteria are commonly found in the soil and in surface water, on leaves and rocks. They are so common that if surface water has gotten into your well, coliforms are almost surely present. If coliform bacteria are present in your well water, there is also the possibility that harmful chemicals or disease causing organisms (which may be present on the surface) may also have found their way into your well.
E.COLI BACTERIA - E.Coli bacteria are a subset of coliform bacteria. They are present in the intestines (and feces) of warm blooded mammals (including humans). Their presence in your drinking water indicates fecal contamination, and possibly the presence of disease causing organisms.
SODIUM - Sodium is naturally present in nearly all waters. Water near the seacoast, or water softened with sodium-form water softeners may have higher concentrations. High sodium may also indicate contamination from human or animal waste disposal, or from landfill leachate.
HARDNESS - Water hardness results from the presence of certain metals, usually calcium and magnesium. Hard water is generally not known to be unhealthy, but it can be aesthetically unpleasant. A soap scum can appear on tubs and showers, and a filmy substance may develop in your toilet. You may also notice it takes a lot of soap to work up a lather. Also, this can cause an undesirable level of scale build-up inside your pipes and fixtures(including your water heater).
pH - pH is a measure of the acidic or basic character of your water. Acidic water is corrosive to metal pipes and may impart a metallic taste to the water.
IRON - Iron can stain laundry, sinks, tubs and fixtures a reddish or orange color and may add a bitter or stringent taste to the water.
MANGANESE - Manganese can stain laundry and porcelain a blackish or grayish color and may add an unpleasant taste to the water.
TURBIDITY - Turbidity is a measurement of the cloudiness in water and is caused by sediments, which are stirred up in the water. The sediments come from eroded and/or disturbed soil which flow with runoff into water sources. Algae can also add to the turbidity problem.
LEAD - Lead is a common metal found throughout the environment in paint, air, soil, household dust, food, porcelain, pewter and in water. Lead rarely occurs naturally in rivers or lakes, but leaches into your drinking water from brass or chrome-plated brass faucets, or from pipes soldered with lead-based solder. Lead builds up in your body and can damage the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys. The greatest risk is to young children and to women during pregnancy.
ARSENIC - Arsenic in water causes cancer and has been found in wells and public water supplies throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Arsenic is a poisonous chemical element that occurs naturally in many parts of the United States, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It also occurs as a legacy of past human activities such as coal ash disposal and apple orchard spraying. A number of risk assessment studies worldwide, cited by both the Department of Health and Human Services(DHHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have shown arsenic to be associated with an increased risk of bladder, lung, kidney, liver, skin, and prostate cancer.
As of December of 2000 the NH DES (New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services) estimates that approximately 15 percent of the groundwater supplies in New Hampshire have arsenic concentrations that exceed recommended levels, occurring mostly in bedrock wells, often referred to as artesian or drilled wells. Since arsenic, as well as some of the other contaminants, has no taste, odor, or color, only laboratory testing by a certified laboratory can identify its presence.
If arsenic is found in a water supply, treatment is relatively straightforward. Either a reverse osmosis system or an adsorption system using activated alumina can be used. The cost for a private homeowner to install treatment systems ranges for both point-of-use and point-of-entry systems. You should obtain current cost estimates from at least three qualified filtration companies.
9 Bartlet Street #261
Andover, MA 01810
PO Box 12
Hampstead, NH 03841