October 18, 2012TUFTONBORO — Thirty-four percent of the 123 samples of well water collected by Tuftonboro residents for testing this summer by the Department of Environmental Services (DES) exceeded the maximum contaminant level for arsenic.
While some residents chose to have their water tested only for arsenic, a natural chemical toxic to humans at certain concentrations, they had an option for more extensive testing.
The overall results indicate a slightly higher than average incidence of contaminants in Tuftonboro wells than the New Hampshire average.
In light of the findings, the town's Conservation Commission, which distributed testing kits and brought residents' samples to Concord in July, has set Tuesday, Nov. 13, for a 6:30 p.m. meeting in the Tuftonboro Central School cafeteria to discuss the results.
Conservation Commission member Nancy Piper says the group, with assistance from a DES representative, plans to review the test results with residents and offer not only information on how to interpret the data but suggestions for correcting problems that might have shown up.
Kits will be available at the meeting for those who have not yet tested their well water. There is a fee for testing.
Steve Wingate, another commission member instrumental in the educational effort, said in a written summary to the Board of Selectmen, "These concerns are not unique to Tuftonboro, but are found throughout the state, and we feel that the public should be made aware in order to make sound decisions about their own drinking water and their health as well as the health of their families. We do intend to repeat this water test program in the future so that our residents can conveniently have their well water tested.
New Hampshire, known as the "arsenic state" in the 1800s, currently shows excessive arsenic levels in one out of every five wells. A low dose over a long time can have an adverse effect on one's health, according to medical research. A direct link has been established to cancers, vascular and cardiovascular disease, reproductive and developmental effects, cognitive and neurological effects, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
A standard, inexpensive test every three years is recommended, for levels of the naturally-occurring mineral is not static. Commission member Nancy Byrd said that her well on Mirror Lake shorefront property was within the 10 - 50 parts per billion range until it went up to almost 400 ppb following the drilling of a well on neighboring property.
Testing every three years is recommended.