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PFAS has many wondering ‘What’s in my water?’

Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Marathon County Health Department has had an uptick in water testing since the announcement of PFAS contamination in city wells in January. The Environmental Health and Safety Director at Marathon County Health Department says other contaminants can be just as harmful as PFAS.

The lab can test for bacteria, nitrates and fluoride.

“If it comes back positive for coliform it can mean that there are other pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria in the water,” said Dale Grosskurth, Environmental Health and Safety Director at the Marathon County Health Department.

One contaminant they keep a close eye on is nitrates.

“It’s one of the contaminants that most widely spread through the state of Wisconsin. Every county has had wells with elevated levels,” said Grosskurth.

High levels can cause thyroid problems and some forms of cancer.

“Levels of nitrate can cause blue baby syndrome where it interferes with the baby’s ability to carry oxygen,” said Grosskurth.

But adults can be affected too. That’s why they recommend people with private wells get tested every year. Especially if you notice any changes like smell, color, or taste.

The Marathon County Health Department said one-in-five wells in Wisconsin are considered unsafe because of the bacteria.

If you’re interested in getting your water tested you can stop into the health department to get the testing bottles. Make sure you return the sample to the lab within 24 hours of collecting it. For more information about their water testing click here.

Here you can find in-depth information on Bacteria in Private Well Water and Nitrate in Private Well Water.

The largest kit costs about $70. The health department recommends calling a plumber if you get your results back and need water treatment.

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