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Can Water Wells Be Tainted by Toxic Firefighting Chemicals?

Four generations of experience installing, maintaining and
repairing wells throughout Utah and Wyoming.
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Yes, your water well could become polluted with chemicals from firefighting foam, according to a recent study from Harvard University.

well water chemicals

Researchers found that at least 6 million U.S. residents have unsafe levels of toxic chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These firefighting chemicals that have been linked to a variety of health risks.

Even more alarming, the actual number of U.S. residents exposed to these dangerous contaminants may be much higher. Government data is not currently available for nearly a third of the United States.

How Firefighting Chemicals May Get into Your Water Well

PFASs are toxic chemicals found in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which is used by firefighters to attack particularly dangerous or stubborn fires.

If your property has never suffered a serious fire, you may believe your water well couldn’t possibly be contaminated with PFASs. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

AFFF is regularly used across the country for firefighting training and practice drills. Plus, the foam is frequently employed to help contain structure and car fires. Although firefighters try to maintain as much distance as possible from water sources, large amounts of these chemicals are still washed into lakes and rivers.

When that happens, PFASs end up in the groundwater. Since firefighting chemicals do not readily break down in the environment, they could end up in the groundwater that supplies any water well – including yours.

How Drinking Water Contaminated with PFASs Could Affect Your Health

This family of chemicals has not yet seen much scientific study, so researchers don’t really know exactly how much of a health risk they pose. However, scientists do believe that PFASs accumulate in the body and have the potential to cause harm, particularly after years of exposure.

Some studies have associated PFASs with high cholesterol, hormone disruption and immune deficiency. Kidney and testicular cancer have also been linked to these toxic chemicals. Other potential health risks could be revealed after further research.

How Can You Tell if Your Water Well is Contaminated?

The Harvard researchers mapped out their findings, showing groundwater sources currently known to have detectable levels of firefighting chemicals. Unfortunately, no data is available for much of Utah and Wyoming. So, the only way to know if your well contains PFASs is to have it tested.

Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC can test your well water for a range of pollutants, including toxic firefighting chemicals. And, if any contamination is found, we can explain your options for handling the situation. Give us a call today to schedule testing for your Utah or Wyoming water well.