Arsenic in Private Well Water and Health

arsenic in private well water

Exposure and Risk

The majority of health risks from arsenic in the United States are from long term exposure. Although short-term exposures to high doses may cause adverse effects in people, a high dose of arsenic is about a thousand times higher than the drinking water standard. Arsenic exposures do not occur from EPA-regulated public water supplies in the United States that comply with the arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL).
Read more about Arsenic from the CDC

Possible health effects include:

  • thickening and discoloration of the skin
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • liver effects
  • cardiovascular (heart) effects
  • pulmonary (lung) effects
  • immunological (ability to fight infection) effects
  • neurological (brain) effects such as numbness and partial paralysis
  • reproductive effects
  • endocrine effects such as diabetes and
  • cancer
    • bladder
    • lungs
    • skin
    • kidney
    • nasal passages
    • liver and
    • prostate


It is recommend that every private well used for any drinking water purpose have at least one arsenic test performed so that the well user understands if arsenic is an issue with the water supply. The local environmental health office can answer questions or assist with testing a private well for arsenic.