What is a Water Coliform Test?
People who are on municipal water supplies have a vast set of people and resources in place to insure their water meets drinking water quality standards. Private well water supplies are not monitored by government or municipal agencies. This means the well owner must take responsibility for monitoring well water quality.
In 1989-90, Montana State University Extension Water Quality offered a well test program for private well owners. In this study nearly 40% of the water samples tested positive for coliform bacteria. The same study revealed 1 in every 20 samples had nitrate levels higher than the EPA standard.
Even if you do currently have good water quality, routine testing is a good idea because it establishes a water quality record. With a water quality record, if a contaminant problem develops it is easier to correlate to the cause.
Do I need a VOC Well Water Test?
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) are carbon-containing compounds that evaporate easily from water into air at normal air temperatures. VOCs are contained in a wide variety of commercial, industrial and residential products including fuel oils, gasoline, solvents, cleaners and degreasers, paints, inks, dyes, refrigerants and pesticides.
People are most commonly exposed to VOCs through the air, in food, through skin contact, and potentially in drinking water supplies. People with municipal water supplies generally don’t require a VOC test.
Several factors increase the likelihood that a water supply will be contaminated.
- One factor is the distance between the well and a source of contamination. Many wells contaminated with VOCs are located near industrial or commercial areas, gas stations, landfills or railroad tracks.
- A second factor is the amount of VOCs dumped or spilled. Some spills are small and localized. Others occur over a long period of time, or involve large quantities of contaminants. When a large quantity of chemicals has leaked or spilled, as may occur with leaking underground tanks or industrial spills, a large geographical area may be affected.
- Third, the depth of a well can be a factor. Shallow wells are often affected sooner and more severely than deep wells when contaminants have been spilled on surface soils.
- A fourth factor is local geology. Groundwater covered by thin, porous soil or sand layers is most vulnerable. Dense, thickly layered soils may slow down the movement of contaminants and may help to absorb them.
- The fifth factor affecting contamination of water is time. Groundwater typically moves very slowly. A spill may take years to reach nearby wells, so wells may not be contaminated until months or years after the spill is discovered.
Should I test for Radon?
If your home has a basement, you should consider testing for Radon since it’s present in the ground all over the United States. A radon test usually takes 48 hours to conduct and requires that the inspector comes back to pick up the test and deliver it to the lab.
If your home is on a slab, it’s not necessary to test for radon (since your house is not in the ground) though you might want to consider it for peace of mind.