Why should I be concerned about my water quality? Your water might look, smell, and taste fine but it might NOT be safe to drink, especially if you have a well or have older lead pipes.
What would make my water unsafe to drink? Potential contamination may occur naturally, or as a result of human activity or building materials.
Contamination of your drinking water can result from naturally occurring chemicals such as arsenic, radon and uranium found in soil and rocks all over Maine. These chemicals dissolve in water. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Maine wells have high levels of arsenic.
The Maine Bureau of Health recommends that all Maine household wells be tested for arsenic.
If your well casing is leaking or if human or animal waste has polluted your water, there could be germs (bacteria and viruses) contaminating your water. Pesticides and fertilizers can end up in ground water. Testing for Coliform and E. Coli bacteria, Nitrates and Nitrites (Nitrogen) will tell you if these contaminants are present. Household plumbing materials are the most common source of lead and copper found in home drinking water. Ground water can also be polluted by improper disposal of common household products including used motor oils, cleaning solvents, paints, and paint thinners. Faulty septic tanks and leach fields can also result in soaps and detergents harming your drinking water.
What are the effects of unsafe water quality?
Unsafe water can cause unpleasant symptoms such as upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. Other health problems can be very serious. Infants below six months who drink water containing nitrates in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. High concentrations of arsenic can damage the digestive tract, heart and circulation. Studies also suggest that arsenic is associated with skin cancer. Some of the contaminants found in Maine ground water increase the risk of cancer or kidney problems.
Am I required to test my water if I am buying a home?
Some lenders, or governmental agencies guaranteeing your loan, may require that you test the water in the home you are buying to make sure it is safe to drink as a condition of the loan. This may include the VA, FHA, HUD, Rural Development or MSHA. Check with the lending institution you are dealing with to determine if you are required to have the water tested.
How often should I test my water quality?
The Center for Disease Control recommends that if you have a well you should test for bacteria, nitrates, and nitrites every year and every three to five years for arsenic, radon, uranium, and lead.
What do I do if my water is unsafe to drink?
There are water treatment systems to address contamination of your drinking water. Some problems are relatively quick and easy to fix. Others take longer and cost more. To find out what you can do, contact a qualified water treatment professional.
How can S & J Property Services help me with my water quality testing?
S & J Property Services can collect the water samples for you, send them to our test lab, (A&L Laboratory in Auburn), and then report the test results to you. If you are buying a home, we can have the water tested as part of an inspection. If you are selling your home, we can assist you in determining if there is a problem with your drinking water so it does not cause a problem with the sale. If you are not selling your home, but want to know if there are any problems with your drinking water for your peace of mind, we can have the water tested for individual contaminants such as arsenic or bacteria, or have it tested for multiple contaminants. The water test could be packaged with a test for other environmental hazards, such as radon in air, or a screening for mold.
Where can I find more information on water quality?
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