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A new well water testing service has been developed to safeguard the water supplies of the 53 million Americans who get drinking water from private wells.
"Private wells generally draw water from unprotected watersheds that may be vulnerable to contamination from chemicals, gasoline, pesticides and bacteria, to name a few," explained Ann Marie Gebhart, the global business manager of water quality testing at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), a not-for-profit company dedicated to consumer safety for more than 110 years.
Unlike municipal water supplies, private wells are not regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, she pointed out. "Instead, private well owners are responsible for monitoring the water quality of their wells. And while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises testing private wells annually, only about five percent of private wells are tested each year," she added.
This low level of testing is alarming, considering that each year between 50 and 1,200 people die in the United States from water borne diseases, mostly microbial organisms. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that an additional 200,000 to 1.3 million people are made ill from contaminated drinking water.
To help busy families identify potential drinking water hazards, UL now offers an easy-to-use, Web-based well-water testing service called DrinkWell.
DrinkWell tests for as many as 93 contaminants, including bacteria such as E. coli, industrial chemicals, herbicides, insecticides, solvents and heavy metals, as well as compounds that affect how water looks, tastes and smells.
The DrinkWell Web-site, http://www.uldrinkwell.com, contains a survey that helps customers choose the tests for their well. After following the test kit's simple sampling instructions, customers simply return their water sample using the prepaid UPS shipping label, to UL's 70,000 sq ft drinking water facility in South Bend, Ind., for analysis. This facility tests water for more than 7,000 municipalities nationwide.
The DrinkWell comprehensive report is color-coded to make it easy to understand. Also, each report cites published potential health or aesthetic issues related to any contaminants found in your water that exceed federal limits.
"You receive objective laboratory data from a company that does not sell water treatment products," Gebhart noted. "If the test detects contaminants, DrinkWell will provide information on UL Listed drinking water treatment filters as an added resource to help customers determine solutions to their water problems."
In addition, DrinkWell offers access to a Nurse Call Center through Memorial Health System in South Bend to help answer health effect questions customers may have related to contaminants found in their water.
"Once you receive your report, you will be provided a phone number and email address so that you can speak directly with a specially trained nurse to discuss any health concerns you may have with your water," Gebhart said.
Underwriters Laboratories Inc., is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than 110 years. UL tests more than 18,850 types of products annually, and more than 19 billion UL Marks appear on products each year.