Drought Increases Arsenic Risk In Michigan Private Water Wells

Apr 5, 2021

Credit (COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY)

Arsenic is a problem for many private wells in Michigan. Now a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey finds a drought could make things even worse. 

Arsenic occurs naturally in many places. Unfortunately, it’s toxic. Too much exposure can damage people’s health in a variety of ways including increasing their cancer risk. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates more than 225,000 Michiganders may already get too much arsenic from their private wells. And the agency says in times of drought, almost 100,000 more could be at risk.

Melissa Lombard with the U.S.G.S. in New Hampshire says, "The longer the duration of the drought, the greater the increase in probability of having elevated arsenic."

Public water supplies have to limit arsenic levels. But those laws don’t cover private wells.