Having a well on private property provides homeowners with an inexpensive source of water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and watering lawns and landscaping plants. You probably already know the importance of protecting your family's drinking supply from bacterial pathogens such as Giardia, but there are lesser-known threats lurking in many wells in the form of minerals. Trace amounts of certain minerals such as calcium and sodium are to be expected and aren't dangerous, but certain other minerals have the potential to pose serious health threats to you, your family, and anyone else who drinks the water from your well. Following are three minerals that you should have water treatment for in your well water on a regular basis.
Arsenic levels in well water are highest in location where the bedrock contains significant amounts of naturally occurring arsenic. Parts of New England, the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain area and the Southwest may have elevated levels of arsenic. Arsenic levels build up in the body over time, so even small amounts can end up harming your health!
Although small amounts of copper are essential for human health, water that contains too much copper can adversely affect digestive functioning, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps. Copper is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks, sediment, soil, and water and therefore has the potential to be present in private wells. Although most people have a natural mechanism for regulating the amount of copper in their systems, this mechanism isn't developed in infants -- so if you've got one or more children under the age of one year old living in your home, you should be extra careful about having your water checked for high levels of copper. Those with certain health conditions such as Wilson's Disease should also be careful to ensure that they limit their exposure to copper.
Although mercury contamination is most often associated with the oceans, it can also be present in well water. Because high concentrations of mercury can cause nervous systems damage and has been found to be particularly dangerous for unborn children, it's important to ensure that household drinking water does not contain unsafe levels of mercury. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include muscular weakness, loss of normal appetite, inflammation of the gums, general irritability, and even memory loss and brain damage in extreme cases.
Having your well water professionally tested on an annual basis is the best way to detect unsafe levels of minerals.