Assessment of inorganic contamination of private wells and demonstration of effective filter-based reduction: A pilot-study in Stokes County, North Carolina.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Well water is the primary drinking source for nearly a quarter of North Carolina residents. Many communities across the state have been concerned about their well water quality and inorganic contamination. The "Well Empowered" study worked alongside a community in Stokes County, North Carolina to measure toxic metals in their well water as well as provide and test ZeroWater® filter pitchers in homes with arsenic (As) or lead (Pb) contamination. Multiple water samples, including a First Draw sample from the kitchen tap and a sample taken directly from the well, were collected from 39 homes in Stokes County. The samples were analyzed for 17 different inorganic contaminants, including As, boron (B), Pb, and manganese (Mn), using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). High concentrations of Pb along with copper (Cu), cadmium (Cd), and zinc (Zn) were only found in the First Draw sample and therefore likely originate in the home plumbing system while As, iron (Fe), and Mn were consistent across all samples and therefore are present in the groundwater. The low concentrations of B (<100 parts per billion (ppb)) make it unlikely that the source of As and Mn contamination was coal ash-derived. Out of the 39 homes, four had As levels exceeding the federal standard of 10 ppb and an additional two exceeded the Pb standard of 15 ppb. These homes were provided with a ZeroWater® filter pitcher and a water sample was taken pre- and post-filtration. The ZeroWater® filter removed 99% of As and Pb from the water, dropping the levels well below the drinking water standard levels. These ZeroWater® filter pitchers, while not a permanent solution, are a low-cost option for homeowners experiencing As or Pb contamination.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tomlinson, MS; Bommarito, P; George, A; Yelton, S; Cable, P; Coyte, R; Karr, J; Vengosh, A; Gray, KM; Fry, RC

Published Date

  • October 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 177 /

Start / End Page

  • 108618 -

PubMed ID

  • 31419714

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6717535

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0953

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0013-9351

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108618


  • eng