Arsenic is Everywhere
Moore's department will test water samples for residents for $17. The tests are mandatory for all new homes and wells and when existing homes are sold or the deed is transferred. The department has tested about 8,000 homes since 2001. Only one-half of 1 percent exceeded the old standard of 50 ppb--but 9 percent had arsenic at 10 ppb or above.
Fortunately, there's almost always a solution. "Arsenic only affects you when it's consumed," explains Dondzila. "So it's really only water for drinking and cooking that's a problem, not water for humidifiers or washing clothes or bathing. For arsenic below 50 ppb, usually an under-the-sink reverse osmosis treatment should do it. Above that, there's whole house arsenic removal, where you put a large tank after water soften to remove the arsenic. And if your level's really high, then there's drilling a new well." Another water table at the same location will often have lower arsenic levels--though the only way to know for sure is to drill and have a sample tested.
The solutions aren't cheap. "The under-the-sink reverse osmosis units average $650 to $850 installed," says Dondzila. "The whole house treatment averages $2,000 to $2,300 installed, and that includes the water test. The average 100-foot well costs between $4,500 and $5,000. That includes hooking up to the house but not upgrades like a bigger tank or pump or geothermal heating. All that's more."