Conference to Address Arsenic in Iowa Groundwater Nov. 9
Posted: 10/20/2011

Information and help are available at a Nov. 9 conference for private well owners and others affected by arsenic found in Iowa wells.

A recent study reveals almost half of Iowa private wells contain detectable levels of arsenic.

“A lot of folks don’t realize they may have a problem,” says Pete Weyer, associate director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC). “Since private wells aren’t regulated, it’s up to the private owners to get their well water sampled and analyzed. If they do have a problem, it’s important to  know that and to look at options to address  it.”

CHEEC sampled 475 private wells in a statewide survey conducted from 2006 to 2008. Almost half showed some level of arsenic, and about 8 percent of those had concentrations high enough to exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standard (10 ppb in public water supplies).

Samples from more than 2,000 public wells, collected as part of DNR’s Water Quality Monitoring, program show similar results. However, public drinking water supplies have more options for treating or blending water, and must provide water with less than the drinking water standard to their customers.

The conference will be held in the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines. Registration opens at 8 a.m. with opening remarks at 8:45 a.m. Registration is $25 for the day and includes lunch. Forms and more information are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/~confinst/arsenic/index.html. Registration can be completed online or mailed in.

Weyer said the conference should be of interest to private well owners, well drillers, water treatment professionals, water quality researchers, public health and environmental health professionals, and the public. He welcomes walk-ins who want to attend just a session or two, but requests pre-registration for any all-day attendees.

Exposure to high arsenic concentrations in drinking water has been linked to cancer, and cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Presenters will discuss the  health effects of arsenic in drinking water, Iowa’s research on its occurrences in the environment, and treatment options to remove or reduce levels in small water systems.

The audience will have chances to participate by asking questions of experts, and discuss the issues with researchers and with policy makers in state government.

The conference is sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC),  the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Geological & Water Survey - Iowa Department of Natural Resources.