How does arsenic get into the drinking water?
Most of the arsenic found in Wisconsin groundwater is naturally occurring, deposited in the soil and bedrock over millions of years. Increased demand on the aquifer is believed to have exposed new areas of bedrock to oxygen resulting in chemical reactions that can release arsenic into the water.
How can arsenic affect health?
Water contaminated by arsenic can have both minor and major affects to your health depending on how long you are exposed to it. The consumption of drinking water contaminated with arsenic has been associated with the following possible health effects: various cancers, unusual skin pigmentation, numbness of hands/feet, circulatory disorders, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, diabetes, and depression.
Arsenic/Nitrate Testing Requirements
As of October 1st, 2014, all real estate transactions on a private well that require a well inspection will require that the water be tested for bacteria, nitrates and total arsenic. New construction projects are NOT subject to the arsenic and nitrate testing. However, if that new construction project is a model or spec home and the eventual sale takes place down the road and requires a well inspection, that property will then become subject to the arsenic and nitrate testing requirements.
The DNR has stated that “due to the chemical nature of arsenic in ground water, it must be recognized by all that arsenic levels can change with time. There is no such thing as an iron clad clean bill of health.”