Stop Unsafe Levels of Arsenic in Private Water Wells


Target: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy

Goal: Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to set arsenic standards for private water wells

While the Environmental Protection Agency has regulations on arsenic standards in municipal water, there are millions who get their drinking water from private wells. An estimated thirteen million people drink from private wells with concentrations of arsenic above the recommended limit of 10 parts per billion.  New research has shown that even at low doses of exposure, arsenic contributes to respiratory problems, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.  For the protection of private well owners, arsenic levels need to be standardized.

Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in rock and soil.  As such, it seeps into groundwater and ends up in wells across the country.  Previous studies conducted in Bangladesh showed a clear connection between arsenic and reduced lung function at a level of 120 parts per billion.  That research has been mirrored in the United States by a study showing a correlation between arsenic exposure during pregnancy and respiratory infections in their infants.  Some states such as Nevada have much higher concentrations in their wells, up to 500 parts per billion, and this can be detrimental to its residents’ health.

For many years, arsenic concentrations were dismissed by public health researchers because they are relatively minor compared to those found in other countries.  However, based on these new findings, a re-evaluation of the health threat imposed by arsenic has begun to raise awareness of its danger.  As a result, the Food and Drug Administration recently set arsenic standards for apple juice and are now looking into the risk posed by rice.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already requested that the National Academy of Sciences conduct an intensive review of the dangers of arsenic exposure.  It has set the safety standard for public drinking water at 10 parts per billion, and requires suppliers to meet that standard.  The next logical step is to apply these standards to private well water.  Protect millions of residents from the effects of arsenic by urging the EPA to set arsenic standards for private sources of drinking water.


Dear Ms. McCarthy,

Your organization already enforces a safe standard of arsenic concentration in public water supplies, protecting millions of Americans.  However, private wells are serving more than thirteen million people with dangerous levels of arsenic, up to 500 parts per billion.

New research has drawn the conclusion that chronic arsenic exposure is linked to respiratory infections, heart disease, and cancer, even at lower doses. For the safety of our residents owning wells, private water supplies also need to adhere to a set standard of arsenic concentration. We urge you to set that standard and protect the health of millions of Americans.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. I’m glad that this is being looked at again. I think it’s ridiculous that the reason it wasn’t taken seriously initially was because the levels we’re low compared to other countries. If it’s unhealthy at all why would we wait? Terrible decision but like I said, at least it is being worked on.

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