Arsenic in private drinking water wells is a major problem in central Maine. In a study of arsenic concentrations in private wells in Kennebec County from 2005-2009 by the U.S. Geological Survey, about 30 percent of private wells had arsenic levels exceeding the federal safety standard, which only applies to the public water supply, not to private wells.

This is extremely problematic because arsenic is a known carcinogen and can cause health effects ranging from irritation of the stomach and intestines to cancers of the liver, bladder, and lungs. Arsenic exposure is particularly threatening to children — a recent study of Maine schoolchildren exposed to arsenic in well water discovered that those children exhibit lower IQ scores than those who are not exposed.

Fortunately, our lawmakers are proposing to combat the issue of arsenic in private wells. I support L.D. 1162, An Act to Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Maine Families, introduced by Rep. Drew Gattine , D-Westbrook. The bill would require testing when wells are constructed, establish funds for educational outreach and to help low-income families afford water treatment, and require educational outreach on the health effects of contaminated wells.

I urge all of you to reach out to your senators and representatives to encourage them to support L.D. 1162 to safeguard our and our children’s health, and attend the public hearing scheduled for April 21 in Augusta.

Owners of private wells cannot afford to wait any longer — although they may seem healthy, the longer they wait, the more they could be exposed to arsenic, increasing their risks of getting cancer.

Jeff Meltzer


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