Arsenic is believed to be a cause of bladder cancer, which is higher in Maine than the rest of the nation. Data released in 2013 by the National Cancer Institute from a study done from 2006-2010 shows the following incidence of bladder cancer:

• Men: 48 out of 100,000 in Maine, compared to 36.1 in the United States. In Franklin County, it’s 57.6 per 100,000; in Kennebec County, it’s 43.8.

• Women: 13.2 out of 100,000 in Maine, compared to 9 in the United States. In Somerset County, it’s 16.7 per 100,000; in Kennebec County, it’s 11.4.

A 2010 study by the U.S. Geological Survey of 11,000 wells in 531 Maine towns showed three “high clusters” of arsenic in Down East, southern coast and greater Augusta area. A follow-up study by Columbia University estimates 31 percent of private wells sampled “exceeded national standards by 10 to more than 100 times.”

A water test kit can be bought for $15-$25 and, if results are elevated, undercounter filter systems cost about a $100. For more information about water testing, call 287-2070. For more information aboutcancers in Maine, read the “Maine Annual Cancer Report 2013” at maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc.

Don EldridgeWest Gardiner

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