Private Well Owners Urged to Test Water During Public Health WeekYearly health check-ups, visits to the dentist, and regular oil changes are all activities that people do to take care of what is important to them. Private well owners should undertake one more important activity that is too often ignored: annual well water testing.

As part of national Public Health Week, April 5-11, 1999, K Laboratories is advising private well owners to have their water tested for coliform bacteria. If there are infants under six months of age or women of childbearing age drinking the well water, then it also should be tested for nitrate.

Safe, clean water is one of the most vital resources Wisconsin citizens have for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Municipalities regularly test the drinking water supplies to ensure safety. But with private wells, it's the owner's responsibility. Wisconsin has between 750,000 and 1 million private wells, but most are not tested for coliform bacteria and other contaminants on the recommended annual basis. Many of these contaminants can cause sickness in people who drink, bathe, or cook with the water.

Testing well water is one of the simplest things private well owners can do to take care of the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones. We may be urging well water testing during Public Health Week, but the testing is definitely something that can be done any time of the year. Just choose an annual event to link the testing to, such as a birthday, planting flowers in the spring, or the beginning daylight savings time.

The two tests recommended are for coliform bacteria and nitrate. Coliform bacteria are microorganisms that can be found in human and animal waste, in soil, on vegetation and in surface water runoff. While rarely causing sickness themselves, coliform bacteria are used as an indicator. Their bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can cause sickness, may also be present.

If there are infants under the age of six months and women of childbearing age drinking the well water, then a test for nitrate also should be done. Nitrate can cause a serious health condition in infants called "blue baby syndrome," which has symptoms similar to suffocation. Research has also shown a connection between high nitrate levels in water and birth defects and miscarriages in pregnant women.

For more information on how to have private well water tested, contact K LABORATORIES, INC. at (920) 426 - 2222 or email us at .

Public Health Week is sponsored by the American Public Health Association and its state affiliate, the Wisconsin Public Health Association.

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