Is there arsenic in your private well? Study analyzes the risk of residents in Great Basin, western Utah

Many unregulated wells have unhealthy levels of arsenic throughout the region.

(Zak Podmore | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cattle gather around a windmill-powered water well on Piute Mesa south of Lake Powell on July 1, 2020.

cedar city • what’s in your water Scientists at the Desert Research Institute took water samples from wells in Nevada and tested for arsenic that exceeds safe levels. Using this data, they estimated the risk to private well users across the Great Basin, including those living in Iron and Beaver counties.

Due to the dryness of the Great Basin, surface water is “sparse,” according to the institute’s website. This means many residents rely on private wells that are unregulated. Additionally, over 49,000 of these wells across the region could be at risk of “unhealthy levels of arsenic.”

While Environmental Protection Agency guidelines allow up to 10 micrograms per liter of arsenic in public drinking water, research has found that long-term exposure above 5 micrograms per liter can adversely affect a person’s health, the institute said.

Symptoms of long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic in drinking water include pigment changes in a person’s skin, hyperkeratosis or hard patches on the soles of the feet or palms, and skin lesions, according to the World Health Organization. Typically, these symptoms appear after about five years of minimal exposure and can be a precursor to skin cancer.

In addition, long-term exposure can cause bladder and lung cancer and has been linked to diabetes, lung disease and cardiovascular disease, according to the WHO.

Read more about the study and drinking water quality in Utah at St. George News.

This article is published by the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of Utah news organizations dedicated to educating readers across the state. Is there arsenic in your private well? Study analyzes the risk of residents in Great Basin, western Utah

Justin Scacco

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